CORVALLIS, Ore. - Helen Diggs, DVM, a former school teacher whose interest in public health and disease led her to a position of national prominence in veterinary medicine, will deliver the graduation address at Oregon State University's June commencement.

OSU's 139th annual commencement will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 15, at Reser Stadium.

Diggs is the director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Care at the University of California at Berkeley, and consulting veterinarian for the entire University of California system. She also is vice president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, and is scheduled to become the organization's president in 2010.

She graduated from OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985, after earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Portland. Diggs specializes in "zoonotic" diseases, which can be transmitted from animals to humans, including West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, avian flu, and others.

Before enrolling at OSU, she spent two years in Alaska as a teacher in Point Hope and Barrow, in small schools comprised primarily of Inupiat children. After returning to Oregon to earn her doctor of veterinary medicine degree at Oregon State, she became head veterinary medical office at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Portland, while also working at Oregon Health & Science University as an assistant professor of animal care.

Diggs became director of animal care for the University of California in 1995. The Council on Accreditation for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care recently gave her program full reaccreditation, and awarded it a gold star - its fifth since Diggs took over. The council called the program under her leadership "exemplary."

More information on OSU's commencement is available at the commencement web site.

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