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Emerson announces four honorary degree recipients

Emerson College will award four honorary degrees during the College’s 132nd Commencement ceremonies on Monday, May 14, at the Citi Performing Arts Center’s Wang Theatre. Veteran journalist David Gregory, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Tony Kushner, entrepreneur and makeup artist Bobbi Brown, and three–time U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky will be honored.

David Gregory, Meet the Press moderator and one of America’s most respected journalists, will deliver the undergraduate address. Gregory has built a reputation for asking tough questions and for his effective use of social media. Since joining NBC News in 1995, he has covered such stories as the O.J. Simpson trial, Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh’s trial, 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and three presidential campaigns.

David Gregory

David Gregory

Distinguished author, playwright, and screenwriter Tony Kushner will deliver the graduate address. Kushner is best known for his play Angels in America (a play in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), about the AIDS epidemic in New York set during the Reagan presidency. The play won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 (for Millennium Approaches) and two Tony Awards for Best Play (for both parts of the play, in 1993 and 1994). His screen credits include Munich, co-written with Eric Roth and produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. He is currently writing the screenplay for the adaptation of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner  Photo by Joan Marcus

Bobbi Brown ’79 will be honored for her work to empower women of all ages. She is the founder of Bobbi Brown Essentials, which evolved into Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Brown is on the boards of Dress for Success and Emerson College, where she launched Bobbi Brown University, a series of workshops for aspiring makeup artists. She has also been a generous supporter of the College. The College named the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Design Technology and Makeup Suite and the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym in honor of her and her husband. She was appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, and was invited by Mrs. Obama to participate in the White House’s Leadership & Mentoring Program for young women.

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown

The final honorary degree recipient, Robert Pinsky, served an unprecedented three terms as U.S. Poet Laureate and will be recognized for his impressive body of work, including Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), published in a paperback edition in March 2012. POEMJAZZ, a CD featuring his collaboration with jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood, was released the same month. He edited Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud (Norton, 2009), with an accompanying CD. His translation The Inferno of Dante (1994) was a Book-of-the-Month-Club Editor's Choice, and received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. His prose works include The Life of David (Schocken, 2005), the initial volume in the Nextbook series.

Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky

Gregory, Kushner, Brown, and Pinsky will each receive a Doctor of Humane Letters during the annual undergraduate ceremony, which will begin at 11:00 am. Approximately 1,000 bachelor’s degrees will be conferred at the ceremony. More than 200 master’s degrees will be conferred during the graduate exercises, which start at 3:00 pm. Receptions for family and friends will be held on Boston Common following each event.

In related Commencement 2012 news, Emerson alumnus, faculty member, and Trustee Kevin Bright ’76 will be addressing undergraduate award recipients and their families at 2:00 pm on Sunday, May 13, in the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Bright is one of the original executive producers and creator of Friends, and his credits include In Living Color, Veronica’s Closet, and Joey.

For the past five years, Bright has taught a variety of undergraduate courses at Emerson within the Kevin Bright Workshop. He has also served as the faculty advisor for the College’s EVVY Awards, the largest and most professionally run student award show in the United States, which this year celebrates its 31st anniversary. In 2010, the Bright Family Screening Room in the Paramount Center was named in honor of his generous support of, and service to, Emerson College. He is on the Advisory Board for Emerson College Los Angeles, an academic facility currently being built, and recently headlined an event in Hollywood for students accepted to the Class of 2016.

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