Newswise — New York, NY – Temple Grandin, the internationally known champion of autism rights and humane treatment of animals, will speak at the second of three master’s degree convocation ceremonies at Teachers College, Columbia University, on Tuesday, May 20th at 10 a.m, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Grandin, a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, was diagnosed with autism as a child, but, defying the odds, went on to earn a doctorate and has since served as a model of accomplishment and success for high-functioning people with autism. In 2010, HBO released a biographical documentary starring Clare Danes as Grandin, and Time magazine named Grandin among the top 100 most influential people.

The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, will address the third Teachers College master’s degree convocation, also on May 20th, at 2 p.m. Butts co-founded and still chairs the Abyssinian Development Corp., a comprehensive, community-based, not-for-profit organization responsible for over $600 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem. He currently serves as President of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. TC will hold four convocation ceremonies – three for master’s degree candidates and one for doctoral candidates – in May at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. On May 19th and 20th, more than 1,200 graduates are expected to receive master's degrees (several hundred more students not attending will also receive their degrees). An estimated 178 doctoral degree recipients will be hooded at a ceremony on May 21. (Final numbers will be available directly before the ceremonies.)

At the ceremony on Monday, May 19 at 2 p.m., the College will honor Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Nieto is an expert in multicultural education, teacher preparation, the education of Latinos, and other culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. She has taught students at all levels from elementary through graduate school. Her book, “Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education” (5th and 6th editions with co-author Patty Bode), is widely used in teacher preparation and in-service courses.

At the doctoral hooding ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, 2 p.m., the College will honor Carl Wieman, Chair of the Board on Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2001, Weiman was the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for producing the first true Bose-Einstein condensate, the “super atom” in which, at extremely low temperatures, atoms lose their individuality. As founder and chairman of PhET, a web-based directive of the University of Colorado, he spearheaded the development and free distribution of a vast suite of simulations that breathe new life into the way that the sciences and math are taught and learned. In a variety of roles, including Associate Director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology, he has since engineered significant improvements in science education across the nation.

Teachers College, Columbia University, is the oldest and largest graduate school of education in the nation and perennially ranked among its best. Through its three main emphases – education, health, and psychology – TC prepares educators, psychologists, policymakers and planners for the challenges they will face in their careers, and conducts research that advances knowledge and expertise in these fields.