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The Marathon Award is given out at spring and winter commencement ceremonies to MSU Denver alumni, employees or community advocates who exemplify “the Roadrunner Difference.”
Representative of Roadrunner students who sprinted across Denver’s busy streets to get to class from the early days of the University, the Roadrunner Difference embodies that spirit of determination that our students use to be successful on campus and in their careers. Our graduates are diverse, tenacious, primed, purposeful and entrepreneurial, and this award honors someone who takes those characteristics to reimagine what’s possible for themselves and their communities.
Roy Romer is Colorado’s last three-time governor, having been elected to the state’s highest office in 1986, 1990 and 1994. Previously, he had served in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate and as state treasurer. During his time at the statehouse, he was instrumental in the founding of Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is often referred to as the Father of MSU Denver.
Romer has stayed busy in the public arena since his last term as governor ended. He was the general chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1997 to 2000, was vice chair of the Democratic Leadership Council and chaired the Educational Commission of the States and the National Education Goals Panel. Romer was named superintendent of schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2000 and held that position until 2006.
He was first elected to the Colorado House in 1958, serving there through 1962, and then was a state senator until 1966. During this time, Romer played a critical role in helping MSU Denver get its start in 1965. After the appropriations bill that included funding for then-Metropolitan State College passed the House, Romer successfully worked to get the bill passed in the Senate.
He then worked as a lawyer in Denver before returning to public service in 1975, first as Colorado’s commissioner of agriculture, then as the governor’s chief of staff. He was appointed as state treasurer in 1977 and served in that role for 10 years.
Romer was born in Garden City, Kansas, and grew up in the southeastern Colorado town of Holly. He holds degrees in agricultural economics and law and studied ethics at Yale University. He also served as a military prosecutor in Germany for the U.S. Air Force.
Lieutenant General Laura Richardson is a 1986 MSU Denver graduate who is the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Army, currently serving as the commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Richardson, a Northglenn native, studied psychology and went through MSU Denver’s ROTC program before becoming a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, flying combat missions in Iraq and working her way to the top of the military.
She was recently nominated for a promotion to four-star general, and when confirmed by the U.S. Senate will become one of just a handful of women to achieve that rank in the history of the military.