The 2012 Bethany Lutheran College Distinguished Alumnus is Dr. Darold Treffert of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Treffert attended Bethany where he focused on pre-medical courses earning an associate in arts degree from Bethany in 1953. He received his medical doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1958.
Dr. Treffert is an internationally renowned expert in Savant Syndrome. He has studied the condition for over forty years. His interest in the subject arose as a result of establishing a children’s unit at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he was superintendent for 15 years. Three patients caught Dr. Treffert’s attentions and fascinated by these children’s capabilities, he found a life calling researching and helping the world understand autistic savants. He later left that position to divide his time between the private practice of psychiatry dealing with autistic savants, and serve as the Medical Director of the Alcoholism Rehabilitation Unit of St. Agnes Hospital in Fond Du Lac. In 1991 he retired from those positions and now combines private practice with writing and lecturing.
Dr. Treffert has authored several well-known books and over fifty journal articles about Savant Syndrome and lectures internationally on the subject. He has made appearances on numerous television and news programs and interviewed for various news publications. Dr. Treffert was a consultant to the movie Rain Man, in which Dustin Hoffman portrays an autistic savant.
Dr. Treffert is on the staff of St. Agnes Hospital and the faculties at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, and UW-Milwaukee. Dr. Treffert is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions and is the Past-President and Chairman of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Marian University.
Dr. Treffert credits his Bethany education for a great deal of his successes. He specifically notes that he is appreciative of receiving a Christ-centered education. He considers it a blessing to be able to utilize his God-given talents to help autistic savants. Additionally, Dr. Treffert is thankful to have met his wife of fifty-seven years, Dorothy, in the cafeteria line in Bethany’s Old Main. The Trefferts have four children and seven