Colorado State University Awards Three Honorary Degrees During Spring Commencement Ceremonies

Colorado State University will confer honorary doctoral degrees on three outstanding leaders during spring 2004 commencement ceremonies on May 14.

Colorado State President Larry Edward Penley will award the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, to Edna Wilson Mosley, Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force (Ret.) John W. Mosley and Joseph F. Phelps in recognition of their exceptional contributions in industry and community service. Edna and John Mosley will be awarded degrees at Colorado State’s Graduate School commencement ceremony at 3 p.m. in Moby Arena. Phelps will receive the honor at the College of Applied Human Sciences ceremony at 7:30 p.m. in Moby Arena.

Edna Wilson Mosley, a pioneer in business, education, public policy and community service, was the first person of color to be elected to the Aurora City Council and served with distinction for 12 years, including one year as Mayor Pro Tem. A member of the first graduating class of Metropolitan State College, she has been engaged in a wide range of business, education and public service activities, including co-founder and director, Women’s Bank (now Colorado Business Bank); president and chairwoman, Denver Sister Cities International; director, Fitzsimmons Redevelopment Authority; director, Denver International Airport Business Partnership; director, Aurora Economic Development Council; director, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University of Denver; board member emeritus, Urban League of Metropolitan Denver; and life member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Colorado State University alumnus and Tuskegee Airman John W. Mosley surmounted formidable obstacles in his educational, military and professional careers to build a distinguished record of achievement and public service. A native of Denver, Mosley earned an academic scholarship to attend Colorado A&M, where he was senior class vice president, an undefeated wrestler and all-conference honoree in football. Because of racial policies, Mosley was denied housing at Colorado A&M residence halls, service in Fort Collins restaurants and seating on the main floor of movie houses. At the outbreak of World War II, he was denied the opportunity to serve in the Army Air Corps because of his race; however, through his persistence, he became a Tuskegee Airman. He served honorably and fostered integration of the U.S. Air Force. While completing a graduate degree in social work at the University of Denver, Col. Mosley worked at the Glenarm YMCA (a segregated facility). As an active member of the NAACP, he worked to end discrimination in cities throughout the United States. Perhaps his most enduring legacy was his work with noted civil rights activist James Farmer on the Head Start Program.

Joseph F. Phelps, a 1951 alumnus of Colorado State University’s Construction Management program, has been a highly respected businessman in both the construction and winemaking industries. Phelps grew up as a working member of a farm family in Greeley, Colorado and in 1940 joined his father as partner in Hensel Phelps Construction Co., a company that has grown into one of the top construction companies in the nation. In 1972, he began his second career as a winemaker in Napa Valley establishing Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He has been a generous philanthropist and major benefactor of Colorado State University and has been particularly strong building an alliance between the construction industry and higher education. Phelps’ vision led to a gift to the Construction Management program to endow a student internship program in which students are paired with industry partners to gain real-world experience. He has also established the Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair in Construction Management, which employs an industry professional to teach students. In addition, Phelps has donated land for a housing project for migrant farm workers in California.

The honorary degree recipients were recommended by the Colorado State University Honors and Awards Committee through an open nomination process. The recipients were approved by the Board of Governors for the Colorado State University System.

This spring’s graduation ceremonies at Colorado State will include 3,121 undergraduates and 884 graduate students. Of these graduate students, 128 are professional veterinary medicine students and 101 are receiving doctoral degrees. Forty students will graduate summa cum laude, 94 will graduate magna cum laude and 194 will graduate cum laude.