Thompson Rivers University is bestowing an honorary doctorate on a renowned author, animal behaviour consultant, university professor and autism activist during its virtual fall convocation ceremony on Friday, Oct. 16.
Temple Grandin, who changed the world’s perception of what people with autism can achieve, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters from TRU. Grandin has made contributions to the humane treatment of animals and the support and acceptance of those with autism and neurodiversity.
The honorary degree is the highest form of recognition offered by TRU and awarded for demonstrated excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, arts, humanities, business, law and philanthropy.
“Dr. Temple Grandin embodies so much of what TRU stands for. Her work to understand animals speaks to us and our region, particularly situated as we are in ranch country,” TRU president and vice-chancellor Brett Fairbairn said in a release.
By embracing her own autistic mind, Grandin has become the world’s foremost authority on animal welfare and livestock handling. While Grandin’s work garnered her industry recognition, it was her candor and resilience in “groping her way from the far side of darkness” of autism that brought her celebrity and influence — proving autism can be guided, educated and celebrated.
Born in Boston in 1947, Grandin had no speech and showed all the signs of severe autism at age two. However, she wasn’t formally diagnosed with autism until she was in her 40s.
In 1970, Grandin earned her bachelor degree in human psychology. In 1974, she began working as the livestock editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and in equipment design for corral industries. A year later, she earned her master’s degree in animal science for her work on cattle behaviour in different squeeze chutes. In 1989, Grandin received her PhD in animal science. She is currently a professor at Colorado State University, teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design.
Grandin has authored hundreds of publications, book chapters and technical papers, in addition to 10 books. Her research, work and advocacy for both animal welfare and neurodiversity has garnered Grandin many accolades, including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the World Organization for Animal Health, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a Double Helix Medal and the Ashoka Fellowship.
Thompson Rivers University’s virtual fall convocation will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16. Details are at tru.ca/convocation.