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Dr. Temple Grandin to Receive Honor and Serve as Commencement Speaker

By Mary Wymer

Beacon College will confer an honorary doctorate on national disability advocate Dr. Temple Grandin at its 33rd Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 6.

“We are privileged to celebrate the profound influence of Dr. Grandin with an honorary doctorate of humane letters,” said Beacon President George J. Hagerty. “Her contributions on behalf of people with autism have been truly transformational. The scope and impact of her life and work can only be characterized as extraordinary.”

Grandin, a distinguished scientist and author, notably transformed the design of livestock facilities helping to eliminate pain and fear from the slaughtering process.

Diagnosed with autism at a young age, her parents fought doctors’ advice to place her in an institution and instead enrolled her in private school education nurturing her IQ. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College, and then continued her education with a master’s degree and a doctorate in animal science from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively.

Grandin has authored more than 400 scientific journals on livestock practices and over 25 books on autism. Today she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.

Her awards and distinctions include inductions into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, being named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” the Difference Maker Award from the PBS TV show “A World of Difference: Embracing Neurodiversity,” and an award-winning 2010 HBO biopic, “Temple Grandin,” starring Claire Danes.

That impressive breadth and achievement and activism spurred Beacon anthrozoology students in October 2021 to mount a campaign to recruit Grandin as a commencement speaker. Students recorded a short video to court the science icon, which was shared with Grandin.

And it worked.

“I have put May 6th on my calendar for next year,” she wrote in an email. “I am honored that you will be presenting me with an honorary doctorate.”

Honorary degrees are awarded by the board of trustees of Beacon College and will be conferred by the college president during Commencement Exercises at the Brownwood Hotel & Spa in The Villages starting at 11 a.m. This year, the College will award 93 bachelor’s degrees and 23 associate’s degrees.