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April 17, 2008

Marino selected as commencement speaker

Pitt alumnus Dan Marino will address Pitt’s 2008 commencement convocation April 27 at the Petersen Events Center. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m.

Marino, a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, is an in-studio host of CBS-TV’s “The NFL Today.”

He and his wife, Claire, are advocates for the care of children with autism and special needs through the Dan Marino Foundation.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said, “Dan Marino, saluted by many as the greatest quarterback in football history, is a champion — both in sport and in life. He also is an extraordinary human being.”

Marino, who grew up in Oakland, already was a nationally acclaimed athlete when he came to Pitt in 1978. He was named a Parade magazine High School All-American as a quarterback for Central Catholic High School; he also was drafted to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

During his Pitt football career, Marino established several National Collegiate Athletic Association season and career records for pass attempts and completions, yardage and touchdowns. His uniform number, 13, was retired by Pitt in 1982.

Marino earned his BA in communication science at Pitt in 1983 and was drafted in the first round by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

He set more than 20 individual-season and career passing records during his 17-year NFL career that culminated in his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Off the field, Marino served as the Dolphins’ United Way representative. He also performed in dozens of television shows and several movies.

The Dolphins retired Marino’s No. 13 jersey number and inducted him into the team’s honor roll in 2000. The Dolphins also installed a life-size bronze statue of him at Pro Player Stadium and renamed Stadium Street as Dan Marino Boulevard.

Motivated by their experiences in raising the second of their six children, Michael, who has autism, the Marinos created the Dan Marino Foundation in 1992 to meet the need for treatment programs for children with developmental disabilities and chronic medical problems.

Six years later, the Marinos, with Miami Children’s Hospital, created the Dan Marino Center in Weston, Fla., a pediatric medical center that serves 25,000 children annually.

In 2007, the Marinos received the Public Services Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health, one of the International Health and Medical Media Awards presented by MediMedia. In January, they were recognized by Nova Southwestern University with the President’s Community Award for their outstanding contributions to the university and the South Florida community.

Last month, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist named Marino co-chair of the Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders, which will deliver recommendations on ways to address the growing health crisis autism presents.

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