Gail Schwartz and John Salazar to address ASC graduates


State Senator Gail Schwartz and John Salazar, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, will give the commencement addresses at Adams State College, Saturday, May 14. Two commencement ceremonies will be held, both in Plachy Hall gym at Stadium & Sunset. The undergraduate ceremony begins at 10 a.m., with Schwartz giving the address, followed at 1:30 p.m. by a ceremony for master's degree recipients, who will be addressed by Salazar.

Both speakers "have been steadfast supporters of the San Luis Valley and Adams State College during difficult times," according to Adams State President David Svaldi.

Psychology graduate Lisa Chirieleison will give an address on behalf of the graduating class. She has been involved in AS&F (student government), serving as president for the past year. A native of New York City, she is also a member of the International Psi Chi Honors Society.

A message from the Board of Trustees of Adam State College will be given by Tim Walters, board chair.

A total of 214 undergraduate degrees will be awarded; 15 AA/AS and 199 BA/BS. The graduate ceremony will honor 50 who completed their master's degrees in the fall and 113 finishing this semester. Among them will be 18 students in Adams State's first class of Master's in Business in Administration (MBA) graduates. Two years ago, Adams State presented its first honorary Master's of Business Administration to Salazar, then a Congressman, who was the Commencement speaker.

Education a priority for Schwartz

State Senator Gail Schwartz

State Senator Gail Schwartz

Schwartz is in her second four-year term in the Colorado State Senate from District 5, which includes the San Luis Valley. She has always championed P-20 Education, dedicating much of her career to enhancing educational opportunities. To her credit, Senate District 5 will soon have ten new "BEST" schools, including several in the Valley.

In 1995, she was appointed to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education by Governor Roy Romer. In 2000, she was elected to the University of Colorado Board of Regents from Congressional District; she served as a member for four years and the vice chair for two. Schwartz is committed to preserving Colorado's majestic environment and protecting her district's water, natural resources, and agricultural lands. She is a strong advocate for innovative approaches and creative solutions that serve to strengthen local businesses, expand rural health care, and grow economic opportunities in communities throughout her district.

Her current Colorado State Senate appointments include serving as chair of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, in addition to membership on the following committees: Capital Development Committee, Legislative Legal Committee, Transportation Legislative Review Committee, Joint Select Committee on Redistricting, Council of State Governments - West Trends Committee, Energy Council Executive Committee, Water Resources Review Committee, Green Jobs Advisory Council, College Invest, Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Oversight Committee, Colorado Early Learning Opportunities Commission.

Schwartz holds a degree in marketing from the University of Colorado School of Business. She is also a graduate of the Council of State Governments Legislative Academy and the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. Her career includes experience as a corporate officer, small business owner, housing developer, and market analyst. Specifically, she has a background in community economic assessment and ski area planning throughout North America.

Alumnus Salazar leads Colorado agriculture

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar

Salazar is an Adams State alumnus, Class of 1981, who was appointed Colorado's Commissioner of Agriculture earlier this year. He had recently completed three terms in the nation's capital as U.S. representative for the 3rd Congressional District. Prior to federal office, Salazar served in the state House of Representatives and had previously served with the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Forum and the Colorado Agricultural Commission.

In his new position, Salazar oversees the Animal Industry Division, Brands Division, Colorado State Fair, Commissioner's Office, Conservation Services Division, Inspection & Consumer Services Division, Markets Division, and Plant Industry Division.

A sixth-generation farmer and rancher, Salazar continues to farm and ranch on the same property his clan has held in Conejos County for generations. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the San Luis Valley in the mid-1800s. Salazar was a member of the House Agriculture Committee and played a key role in passing the historic farm bill of 2008. His legislative services surrounding agricultural issues earned him recognition from the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union.

By Julie Waechter