During a celebration of world-renowned animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin, Colorado State University (CSU) on Tuesday announced the endowment of a scholarship fund to support the professor’s graduate students.
McDonald’s Corp. contributed $100,000 to the Dr. Temple Grandin Scholarship in Animal Behavior and Welfare. Other contributors are: Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Livestock Association, JBS, Leprino Foods and the National Western Stock Show.

“This fund will allow Dr. Grandin to continue her remarkable work teaching our students about researching livestock behavior and humane handling practices for farm animals,” says Craig Beyrouty, dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “We greatly appreciate the gifts from McDonald’s and other contributors, which highlight the revolutionary influence Dr. Grandin has had in animal welfare and our global food system.”

The announcement came during A Celebration of Temple Grandin, a campus event that hailed Grandin’s work after a remarkable year.

In 2010, HBO released a biographical feature film called “Temple Grandin” based on the CSU professor’s early life; the movie won seven Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. Also last year, Grandin earned a spot on TIME magazine’s list of “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

These developments have helped catapult Grandin to widespread fame.

Grandin, who has autism, is an eminent animal scientist who specializes in livestock behavior and has pioneered the field of farm animal welfare. Her innovations in humane handling equipment and auditing systems have changed the livestock industry, both improving producer profitability and assuring consumers about the integrity of the food system.

“Dr. Grandin has brought a sea of change to how animals are treated in our industry. It’s awesome,” says Bob Langert, vice president for corporate social responsibility at McDonald’s Corp. and a speaker at Tuesday’s event. “She’s put animal welfare on the map at a much higher level.”

Langert said he began working with Grandin in 1997. Their interaction led the global food retailer to adopt Grandin’s welfare auditing system, which uses key indicators in livestock behavior to ensure that food animals are treated humanely during transportation and processing at meat-packing plants.

“Today humane animal welfare is standard operating procedure for all of our suppliers around the world,” Langert says. “Can you imagine one person, by herself, having that kind of impact?”

Grandin, a hero to people with autism and their families, has built her stellar career over more than two decades at CSU. She began work in CSU’s Department of Animal Sciences in 1990.

The professor travels internationally to speak about autism and farm animal welfare, but she is always back on campus to teach her classes in livestock behavior and humane handling. Grandin’s influence through her students was a highlight of the Tuesday celebration.

Beyrouty says the new scholarship fund will help support Grandin’s applied research, and will help ensure that she continues to teach a new generation of animal scientists about foundational concepts in animal behavior and welfare.