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Autism education advocate Grandin to address Wilson grads

May 04, 2010

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Temple Grandin, author, professor and lecturer whose own life with autism has inspired millions, will address the graduating class at Wilson College's 140th commencement ceremony, to be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 23.

Known for her autism education advocacy, she achieved widespread recognition for inventing the squeeze or hug machine, a deep-pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive people -- usually individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Her remarkable life is the subject of the recently released HBO film, "Temple Grandin," starring Claire Danes in the title role.

The topic of Grandin's address to Wilson graduates is "How Mentoring by My Science Teacher Helped Me to Achieve."

Grandin, of Fort Collins, Colo., is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, where she teaches courses in livestock behavior and facility design. She has a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University and a doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois. Her bachelor's degree is from Franklin Pierce College.

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Grandin has done extensive work on the design of livestock handling facilities and her pioneering efforts revolutionized the livestock industry worldwide. Half the cattle in the United States and Canada are handled in equipment she designed for meat plants. Other professional activities include developing animal-welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consulting with McDonald's, Wendy's International, Burger King and other companies.

Approximately 88 students will receive bachelor's and associate degrees during Wilson's commencement ceremony, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. on the college's main green. In addition, six graduates of Wilson's Master of Education program will receive their degrees and another 64 certificates will be granted to college graduates who are completing the teacher intern program at Wilson. (In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in Laird Hall.)

During the commencement ceremony, educator and philanthropist Pam Hayes-Houldin also will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Hayes-Houldin is the daughter of the late Esther Pomeroy Hayes, Wilson class of 1945. She and husband James "Biff" Houldin, who live in Huntingdon, Pa., have established nonprofit organizations that perform charitable work around the world.

Hayes-Houldin also is president of the board of the Pennsylvania Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship (PACTH), which provides education and training for those involved in all aspects of therapeutic horsemanship, including Wilson College students.

A baccalaureate service will be held at 10 a.m. in Alumnae Chapel at Thomson Hall.

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