Tom Hutton, UCCS, (719) 255-3439, (719) 351-6519 [email protected]

The University of Colorado Board of Regents will present an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to former University of Colorado Colorado Springs faculty member Don Birkeland at the 2011 Spring UCCS Commencement.

The 37th UCCS Spring Commencement ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 20 at the Colorado Springs World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.

Birkeland will be recognized for his leadership in the development of executives and employees across the globe as an executive with Minneapolis-based Personnel Decisions Inc., later Personnel Decisions International. PDI pioneered the use of personality-based measurements and inventories as well as leadership development. The company’s clients include leaders in industries as diverse as oil and gas, retail and wholesale food, high technology, manufacturing and finance.

From 1971 to 1980, Birkeland was a member of the UCCS Department of Psychology faculty where he taught courses in organizational psychology in addition to serving as department chair and assistant dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. After leaving UCCS, he joined PDI where he was president for 11 years. He remains close to many UCCS faculty and has helped the university make connections to educational efforts for Saudi Arabian students and in other areas.

Birkeland was selected by a committee of regents and faculty members following his nomination for the honorary degree. CU Regent Monisha Merchant will read a citation before giving Birkeland his honor.

A total of 1,193 students will graduate with 842 expected to participate in ceremonies including a record 19 students receiving doctoral degrees in special hooding ceremonies. At the ceremony, 682 students will receive bachelor’s degrees, 141 will receive master’s degrees and 19 will receive doctoral degrees. Of the doctoral degree recipients, 14 will be granted the Doctorate of Nursing Practice. This doctoral degree prepares nurses to provide high-quality primary health care, often for specific at-risk populations and in rural areas, and for teaching the next generation of professional nurses. Whether these graduates move into teaching or primary health care, both are vital to solving the shortage of nurses in Colorado and helping the U.S. reform its health care system, according to Nancy Smith, dean, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

UCCS is now has the fourth largest enrollment of graduate (master’s and doctoral degree-seeking) students in Colorado.

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak will provide the commencement address and noted the importance of almost 1,200 new graduates to the regional workforce.

“As they move from seats in the classroom to positions as teachers, accountants, nurses, engineers, and many other positions in both the public and private sectors, these graduates represent the workforce, and the future, of southern Colorado,” Shockley-Zalabak said.

UCCS, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The University offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s, and five doctoral