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For Immediate Release: March 24, 2014

World Renowned Autism Activist and Animal Scientist to Deliver Providence College Commencement Address on Sunday, May 18, 2014

Providence, R.I. – Dr. Temple Grandin, an autism awareness advocate, leading innovator in the livestock industry, best-selling author, and engineer will receive an honorary doctorate in Science and present the Commencement Address at Providence College’s Ninety-Sixth Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18, 2014. The ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, 1 La Salle Square, Providence, R.I.

Grandin will be one of five honorary degree recipients. The others are: The Honorable Francis J. Darigan, Jr. ’64, retired justice from the Superior Court of Rhode Island; Raymond M. Murphy, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Sister Margaret Ormond, O.P., Prioress of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace; and Carolyn Rafaelian, creator, designer and acting CEO of Alex and Ani.

Grandin was born in Boston, Mass., and at the age of 2, she was diagnosed with autism, which was considered a form of brain damage at the time.  Her mother worked tirelessly to find the best care and instruction for Grandin.  Her treatments included extensive speech therapy which helped to draw out and reinforce her communicative abilities.

She began to speak at the age of 4.  Although her parents sought the best possible teachers, social interactions remained difficult in middle and high school, and other students teased Grandin regularly for her verbal tics.

Despite these difficulties, she achieved considerable academic success and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, followed by a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.  She then worked as a consultant to companies with large animal slaughterhouse operations, advising them on ways of improving the quality of life of their cattle.

Currently, Grandin is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, where she has served for more than 20 years.  She is world-renowned for using insights gained from her autism to lead dramatic improvements in the livestock industry. 

In North America, almost half of the cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants.  She developed additional systems for cattle and a scoring system for assessing the handling of cattle and other livestock.  Her writings on the principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many people to reduce stress on their animals. 

Grandin’s accomplishments as a celebrated speaker, author, and advocate earned her a place among TIME magazine’s "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2010, and her life story was the subject of the acclaimed 2010 HBO biopic, "Temple Grandin," winner of seven Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.  She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 Hours, CNN Larry King Live, PrimeTime Live, 60 Minutes, the Today Show, and many shows in other countries. She has been featured in People magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, the New York Times book review, and Discover magazine.

She is the recipient of two honorary degrees, humanitarian awards, and prestigious accolades, most recently receiving the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Medallion from the National 4-H Council and the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities of Florida.  In 2007, she was honored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award.  Grandin has been inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in Chicago Ill., the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Dallas, Texas, and the Hall of Great Westerners at Oklahoma State University.

She is the author of over 400 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare, and facility design. She is the author of several books, including Thinking in Pictures (Vintage Press, 1995), Livestock Handling and Transport (CAB International, 2007), Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals (Academics Press, 2013), and Humane Livestock Handling (Storey Pub, 2008.)  Her books Animals in Translation (Scribner Press 2005) and Animals Make Us Human (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) were both on the New York Times best seller list.  Animals Make Us Human was also on the Canadian best seller list.

Additional honorees:


The Honorable Francis J. Darigan, Jr. ’64
will receive an honorary doctorate in Laws.  He is a retired justice from the Superior Court of Rhode Island.

Darigan attended La Salle Academy in Providence, R.I., before he moved on to Providence College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science.  He earned his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island. 

Darigan’s career took many turns before his position on the bench of the Superior Court of Rhode Island.  After he graduated from PC, he served two years active duty with Army Intelligence and went on to work for Nationwide Mutual Insurance.  He then considered a career in public service and ran for mayor of Providence three times, but lost those elections.

He started his own law practice and remained there, until he was appointed to the District Court by Governor J. Joseph Garrahy in 1984.  Two years later, he was brought up to the Superior Court on a temporary basis, and then was formally appointed to the court by Governor Bruce Sundlun in 1991.

Darigan handled some highly visible cases during his time on the bench.  Although the criminal cases received the most attention, he also was involved in some high verdict cases involving medical negligence and contract liability.  The most widely known case of Darigan’s career was The Station fire. In February 2003, 100 people died in the nightclub blaze in West Warwick, R.I. The criminal prosecutions of the nightclub owners were heard by Darigan and the trial eventually ended in a plea agreement.

Since his retirement, Darigan’s busy life of community involvement continues. He and his wife, Alexandra, live in Jamestown, R.I., where he is a member of the Jamestown Community Chorus. He is also a member of the president’s councils at La Salle Academy and at PC.  He is a founding member of the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence and has been a board member for 10 years.

Raymond M. Murphy will receive an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree.  An entrepreneur and philanthropist, he spent 20 years in the consumer products business and helped build family-owned Murphy’s Oil Soap into the third-ranked household cleaner on the American market.  After the brand was sold to Colgate, he continued as an owner-director of two other family companies, JTM Products (industrial lubricants), and ChemMasters (concrete coatings).

Since 2003, Murphy has been minority owner and Vice President of the Lake County Captains (Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians).  In addition, he is a partner in The Adcom Group in Cleveland, a company that provides marketing strategy and production.

He attended PC, but did not graduate.  He left to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and extended his tour of duty in order to keep his brother, who also was on active duty, from having to serve in the war.  He served from 1968 to 1970 in Vietnam.

Murphy is a strong supporter of numerous education, human services, arts, and medical organizations.  In addition to serving as a trustee of the Murphy Family Foundation, he currently serves on the boards of Boys Hope-Girls Hope of Northeastern Ohio and the Catholic Community Foundation.  He is also chair of the capital campaign for the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland.

He has been married since 1976 to his wife, Katie. The couple have two children, John and Ellen.

Sister Margaret Ormond, O.P. will receive an honorary doctorate in Religious Education.  Sr. Ormond is the Prioress of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace, the sponsoring congregation of Ohio Dominican. 

She received a bachelor’s degree in History from the College of St. Mary of the Springs (now Ohio Dominican University).  She also received a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology (STB) and licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) from Angelicum University in Rome (Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas).  During her academic career as a teacher, Sr. Ormond taught high school in New Haven, Connecticut and Steubenville, Ohio, and also served as a high school administrator in New Haven.

Sr. Ormond is well-known throughout the Dominican Order as a result of her cross-cultural ministerial experience.  In 1986, she was appointed by her Congregation to serve as Co-Director of Parable, a national organization for the Promotion of Dominican Life and Mission.  The following year, she became the first International Coordinator of Dominican Sisters International, an office established at the general headquarters of the Order in Rome.

For the next ten years, she traveled to many countries where she spoke on such topics as religious life in this century and the global realities faced by the Church.

In 2008, Sr. Ormond continued her advocacy work on behalf of women, ministering as a consultant on Leadership Among African Religious, which brought her to many areas of the continent, including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Over a ten-year period, she also facilitated Dominican Congresses in the Philippines, El Salvador, South Africa, Kenya, Peru and Hungary.

Her commitment to her Congregation and its members includes her service as Prioress General of the founding congregation from 1990 to 1996, and as General Councilor in the 1980s.  During those years, she also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ohio Dominican College.  In 2009, she was elected by the members of the inaugural chapter of the newly established religious congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, as the first Prioress.

Carolyn Rafaelian will receive an honorary doctorate in Humanities.  She is the creator, designer and acting CEO of Alex and Ani, a Rhode Island based jewelry company named after her first two daughters.

Rafaelian attended the University of Rhode Island between 1987 and 1989, when she transferred to and graduated from The American College in Los Angeles, CA.

She later joined her father's business, and eventually began to work on her own line of jewelry. She became co-owner of Cinerama with her sister in 2002, and her designs became the main seller for the company, keeping it afloat.

In 2004, she launched Alex and Ani, which distinguished itself with an eco-friendly approach, using recycled metals from local vendor partners as components for the jewelry.  The company’s headquarters are located in Cranston, R.I.  To date, the company has posted $200 million in sales, employs almost 1,000 people and has more than 40 retail locations.

Rafaelian is also the owner of the Rhode Island winery Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, (formerly  Sakonnet Vineyards), a cafe franchise called Teas and Javas, and Belcourt of Newport, (formerly Belcourt Castle), once a Newport mansion, now an event venue.

Rafaelian created a charitable component to her company called ‘Charity by Design,’ dedicated to help raise funds and awareness for non-profit organizations.  Rafaelian's personal charitable work includes "Project USA,” a nonprofit, which has raised funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, survivors of breast cancer, and endangered species, as well as separate projects to save both seals and wild mustangs.

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Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs, Community and Government Relations
401-865-2413
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