2012 Honorees

Arts and Humanities


Patricia “Patty” Limerick is a celebrated scholar, sophisticated historian, exceptional teacher, and prominent author. She chairs the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, which she co-founded in 1986. Under her leadership, the Center has published books on compelling Western issues and served as a forum for exploration of important and often contentious public issues.

Her understanding of the American West as a place formed by distinct ethnic, political and environmental factors has led to a profound reinterpretation of Western American History. She has explored how the West’s vast federal lands, boom and bust economy, and diverse ethnic groups have defined its unique history. By challenging the prevailing view that Western American History ended with the frontier, she reveals the many connections between Western America’s past and issues facing America today.

Her best-known work, The Legacy of Conquest, sparked nationwide academic and public debate. Her other works include Something in the Soil, Desert Passages, and numerous columns appearing in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She is a prolific essayist who writes with grace, clarity and humor; and a popular public speaker who presents complex topics with humor, brilliance and ease.

Born in California, she earned a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. from Yale University. After serving as Assistant Professor of History at Harvard, she joined the History Department at the University of Colorado where she was promoted to full professor in 1991.

Her many honors and awards including the Hazel Barnes Prize, the University’s highest award for teaching and research; the Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award; and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

Through work that is both original and rigorous, Dr. Limerick has debunked myths of the West as a romantic place of escape and adventure to bring attention to critical ethnic and environmental issues that have defined – and continue to define – Western American History. As a result of her groundbreaking scholarship, intellectual ingenuity, and passionate writings, the field of Western American history is robust and thriving.

Community Service


Robert “Bob” Tointon is an accomplished business leader, a committed community builder, a champion for educational quality, and a generous philanthropist. He left small-town life in Kansas to help build one of the world’s largest construction contracting companies. Along the way, he developed a deep affection for his adopted hometown of Greeley and worked to make his community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Recognizing that businesses were leaving downtown Greeley, he devoted his time, and financial resources to revitalize the city’s downtown center. He renovated several cornerstone buildings, developed a dinner theatre, and has an art gallery in his name.

Believing that education is the key to the American dream, he chaired the Board of Trustees at the University of Northern Colorado where he created the Tointon Institute for Educational Change which funds leadership academies for K-12 principals. During his tenure, he also formed the Student Recovery Program to improve the graduation rate for at-risk kids.

He played leadership roles with the Colorado Economic Futures Panel and Colorado’s Future, two bipartisan efforts to find consensus on constitutional reform in Colorado. He has also been active with the Colorado Forum, Boy Scouts of America, and the Greeley Rotary Club.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University. Following three years as an Air Force pilot, he worked in all phases of general contracting before joining Hensel Phelps Construction Company in 1963. He was named company president in 1975 and continued as CEO until 1989 when he formed Phelps-Tointon, Inc.

His numerous awards include the Business Excellence Award from the Monfort College of Business, Greeley Tribune’s Citizen of the Year, and National Philanthropy Day’s “Fund Raiser of the Year.” He was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and appointed Trustee Emeritus of the Kansas State University Foundation.

He and his wife, Betty, are the proud parents of two sons and four grandchildren. He still enjoys working his 5,800 acre ranch. Whether swinging a hammer, managing a conglomerate, reviving downtown Greeley, or boosting education, Bob Tointon is a man of action and a true civic leader.

Science and Medicine


Dr. Temple Grandin is a gifted animal scientist, an esteemed professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, and a respected consultant to the national and international livestock industry. A pioneering expert in animal behavior, she has designed humane handling and auditing systems that have transformed the welfare of farm animals worldwide. She has designed facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and has consulted to major corporations including McDonald’s and Whole Foods. As a result, more than half the cattle in North America are handled in meat packing plants with her trademark center-track conveyor restraints.

She was born in Boston and diagnosed with autism at the age of three. With therapy, mentoring, hard work, and the support of her family, she earned a B.S degree from Franklin Pierce College, an M.S. degree from Arizona State University, and a Ph.D. from University of Illinois. She is a philosophical leader of the autism advocacy movement and has served on the board of the Autism Society of America. Her belief that the world needs all kinds of minds has given hope and direction to people with autism and their families.

She has authored numerous industry publications and technical papers, 45 refereed journal articles and 7 books. One of her books, Animals in Translation, was a New York Times best seller. She is the focus of a 2010 semi-biographical HBO film that received 7 Emmy Awards.

Her awards are many. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. She was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010 and inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Despite a demanding schedule of lectures and travels, she teaches a weekly livestock handling class at CSU where she has served as professor of animal science for 22 years. She is a devoted mentor to countless graduate students. On the rare occasions when she is not working, she enjoys horseback riding, science fiction, movies and biochemistry.

Dr. Grandin is an internationally recognized leader of the animal science industry and arguably the world’s most famous autistic person. She bridges these two unique worlds with a remarkable fire that inspires understanding, fuels change, and makes the world a more humane place.