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Dr. Temple Grandin (Photo by Rosalie Winard)

Dr. Temple Grandin to present College’s 96th Commencement Address

Dr. Temple Grandin, an advocate for people with autism and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, will present the Commencement Address at Providence College’s Ninety-Sixth Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.

Grandin will be one of five honorary degree recipients at the ceremony. The others are Honorable Francis J. Darigan, Jr. ’64, a retired Rhode Island Superior Court judge; Raymond M. Murphy, an entrepreneur and philanthropist; Sister Margaret Ormond, O.P., prioress of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace; and Carolyn Rafaelian, founder, creative director, and interim CEO of Alex and Ani, LLC.

Grandin, a native of Boston, Mass., became a role model and source of inspiration for families of people with autism after she was featured by author and neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks in his book, An Anthropologist on Mars (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996). Grandin, who has autism spectrum disorder, used the title phrase to describe herself and credits autism with providing her insights into animal behavior.

The College has been examining disability issues this year through a series of programs and events that began with the Freshman Common Reading Program book selection, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Doubleday, 2003).

As a two-year-old, Grandin 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 her. Treatments included extensive speech therapy, which helped to draw out and reinforce her communication skills.

Grandin 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 her regularly for her verbal tics.

Grandin’s research focuses on reducing stress experienced by grazing animals at meat plants. Grandin’s livestock handling facility designs have been applied around the world, and her guidance on animal behavior, such as the flight zone — the distance around an animal that, if encroached, will cause alarm — has influenced animal husbandry practices. Major corporations adopted an objective scoring system Grandin created to evaluate how animals are handled at meat plants.

Grandin earned a bachelor of arts degree at Franklin Pierce College and a master’s degree in animal science at Arizona State University. She received her doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989. Grandin teaches about livestock handling at Colorado State and serves as a consultant to the livestock industry on animal welfare and facility design.

She has received several honorary degrees from institutions including Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, and McGill University, and dozens of awards, including the Secretary’s Highest Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2007.

She is the author of several books, including Thinking in Pictures and Humane Livestock Handling. Two, Animals in Translation (Scribner, 2005) and Animals Make Us Human (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), were both on The New York Times bestseller list. In 2010, Time magazine named Grandin one of its 100 Most Influential People, and her TED talk filmed that year, The World Needs All Kinds of Minds, has been viewed more than 2.6 million times.

An HBO original film about Grandin’s teenage years and her path to her career won seven Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.

Hon. Francis J. Darigan, Jr. ’64

Darigan, who retired in 2012 after serving as a Rhode Island judge for 28 years, was born and raised in Providence. He attended La Salle Academy before enrolling at PC, where he majored in political science and public administration. Darigan then served in U.S. Army intelligence for two years before leaving for a position at Nationwide Insurance while studying at Suffolk University Law School. 

After Darigan earned his law degree in 1971, he served as in-house counsel for Nationwide. He served on the Providence City Council from 1971 to 1975 and received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island in 1974.

Darigan started his law firm where he practiced until Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy appointed him as associate judge to the District Court in 1984. He joined the Superior Court on a temporary basis until 1991, when Gov. Bruce Sundlun formally appointed him as associate justice.

In nearly three decades as a judge, Darigan heard several high-profile cases, including the criminal prosecution of the owners of The Station nightclub, where 100 people died in a tragic fire in 2003. He also presided over several corruption trials, as well as the sentencing of former Gov. Edward DiPrete. 

The highly respected jurist served on several judicial committees, including the Permanent Advisory Committee on Women and Minorities, the Governor’s Substance Abuse Advisory Committee, and the Superior Court Sentencing Benchmark Committee. He received awards, such as the Hon. Edward V. Healey, Jr. Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Law and the Chief Justice Joseph R. Weisberger Award by the Rhode Island Bar Association for exemplifying the highest standards of judicial excellence.

Raymond M. Murphy

Murphy is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has worked tirelessly for charities in Cleveland, Ohio, for decades. He attended Providence College from 1965 to 1968 and majored in English, but he enlisted in the U.S. Army before completing his degree. During service in the Vietnam War, he extended his tour of duty to prevent his brother, who was on active duty, from being deployed there.

When he returned from Vietnam in 1971, Murphy joined his family’s business, the Murphy-Phoenix Company, which was founded in 1890. He served as co-owner, director, vice president, and national sales director when the company, the manufacturer of Murphy’s Oil Soap, was sold to Colgate-Palmolive in 1991.

He went on to become co-owner and director of his family’s successor businesses until 2005 — JTM Products, a lubricant manufacturer, and ChemMasters, a concrete sealer manufacturer.

In 2002, Murphy bought a minority stake in the Lake County Captains, a minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Since 2007, he also has been a partner of The Adcom Group, a Cleveland-based marketing services firm. He also serves as a principal with JTM Company, his family’s investment office.

Murphy has held numerous leadership roles at nonprofit organizations in Ohio, including chair of the board of directors of the Catholic Community Foundation; president of the alumni board of governors at his alma mater, Gilmour Academy, a Catholic school; chair of the board and of the capital campaign committee for the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland; and a trustee of his private family foundation dedicated to addressing problems of poverty in the Cleveland area.

As a former trustee of the Cleveland Food Bank, Murphy helped lead the effort to build a new food-distribution center, named best in the United States by Second Harvest.

Sister Margaret Ormond, O.P.

Sister Ormond, the first prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, has criss-crossed the globe for Dominican cross-cultural ministerial outreach. The order, which was established in 2009, has about 600 members and 500 associates. 

Sister Ormond was appointed by her congregation to serve as co-director of Parable, a national organization for the promotion of Dominican life and mission, from 1986 to 1987 and 1988 to 1990. 

She served as the prioress general of her founding congregation, the Dominican Sisters, Saint Mary of the Springs, as well as a member of Ohio Dominican University’s board of trustees from 1990 until 1996. As the first international coordinator of Dominican Sisters International, she spent a decade traveling around the world speaking about issues such as contemporary religious life and the global realities faced by the Church. She also facilitated Dominican Congresses in the Philippines, El Salvador, South Africa, Kenya, Peru, and Hungary. As a consultant on Leadership Among African Religious in 2008, she traveled all over the continent, working with communities in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sister Ormond attended the College of St. Mary of the Springs (now Ohio Dominican University) and earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1965. The former high school teacher and vice principal also holds a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology and licentiate of sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.

Carolyn Rafaelian

Rafaelian followed in her family’s footsteps when she founded Alex and Ani, LLC in 2004. She learned the craft of jewelry design and production as a young apprentice to her father, who owned Cinerama, a jewelry factory in Cranston.

Alex and Ani’s expandable wire bangles — worn by celebrities and praised by fashion magazine editors — are made with recycled materials in the United States and have become coveted accessories around the country and across the world. The designs feature everything from spiritual symbols to licensed logos of major sports teams, colleges and universities, and Disney characters.

The company, named after Rafaelian’s two daughters, was ranked on Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest-growing privately owned U.S. companies in 2012. It posted $79.8 million in revenue in 2012, up 3,579 percent in just three years, according to Inc. That year, Rafaelian was named New England Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and SBA RI Small Business Person of the Year. 

Today, the lifestyle company has expanded to include a beauty line, media agency, and coffee bars. 

Rafaelian studied at the University of Rhode Island for two years as well as at The American College in Los Angeles and London.

 
 
Read more about Commencement 2014.
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