Cavanaugh will address Adams State 2015 spring graduates


mark cavanaugh

The Adams State University Spring 2015 Commencement Ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, in Plachy Hall. Mark James Cavanaugh will deliver the commencement address. His relationship with Adams State began when he was appointed to the Adams State College Board of Trustees in 2003 when the institution first acquired its own governing board. He served on the Board for four years, including one year as Vice Chair.

“I am honored to have been asked to give the address,” Cavanaugh said. “Adams State is near and dear to my heart.” Adams State will award 301 degrees, including 256 bachelor’s degrees, and 45 associate degrees. A separate ceremony for students receiving their master’s degrees begins at 1:30 p.m. in Plachy Hall.

Cavanaugh recognizes the significant achievement the graduates have accomplished. “This success will remain with them the rest of their lives.” His speech will focus on the “lofty words” often “attached” to commencement ceremonies. “Words like achievement, sacrifice, responsibility, and risk, are often used in commencement speeches. I hope to help the graduates make sense of these terms and file them away for the future.”

According to Cavanaugh, employers today are looking for problem solvers. “As the graduates enter the work force they will expect to be leaders who can demonstrate curiosity and critical thinking. I believe Adams State has helped turn them into leaders well-prepared to face these unique challenges.”

For the last five years, Cavanaugh was the Chief Financial Officer for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. He served as a principal advisor to Executive Director Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) on DHE and system-wide budget and finance issues. He developed system-wide financial strategies and recommended action to DHE, CCHE and Governor’s Office. Cavanaugh also led a ten member team to oversee legislative implementation and day-to-day finance functions including budget, accounting, tuition and fees, financial aid, Capital Construction and finance policy.

Cavanaugh worked closely with institution leadership and governing boards to guide strategy and advocate for system-wide funding. Through his leadership, the program achieved historic levels of operational and funding flexibility and transparency during the economic downturn and recovery (Senate Bills 10-003, 11-052, House Bill 11-1301).

Before working for the CDHE, Cavanaugh was the Director of the Recovery Act Oversight/Government Efficiency while Governor Ritter was in office. He was also the Policy Director for the Bighorn Center for Public Policy, Budget and Policy Analyst for the Office of Governors Roy Romer and Bill Owens. Cavanaugh began a career in public service reviewing programs for the Department of Defense and National Park Service.

Cavanaugh received his J.D. at the University of Utah College of Law in 1997; and his Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Regis College.

He is a member of the Leadership Denver Class of 2015; served on the Academy for State Policy Leadership in Higher Education, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association; the Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Co-Chair 311/Peak Performance Transition Committee; and the Finance Committee and Advisor for Escuela de Guadalupe Elementary School.

He and his wife, Vicky, live in Denver, Colorado.

Arnold Salazar, chair of the Adams State Board of Trustees, will convey the greetings from the board, while Ashley Favela, current president of the Grizzly Activity Board, will deliver the 2015 class message. Dr. Shellie Beeman, assistant professor of music, will lead the singing of the Alma Mater.

Family and friends unable to physically attend the commencement ceremony can stream the program live at Adams State Live.