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Queen to Honor Columbia’s John Jay Iselin

The United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II has awarded John Jay Iselin, president of Columbia's Marconi Fellowship Foundation, an honorary CBE. The CBE stands for Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire , an order founded in 1917 that honors foreigners for public service. Iselin 's investiture ceremony will occur June 9 in Washington, D.C.

The honor is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British television interests in the United States and his services to Cambridge University . Iselin has served as president of WNET, the New York PBS station, and was the driving force behind a distinctive schedule of programming, which elevated WNET to one of the two leading public television stations in America . In so doing, he nurtured key relationships with the BBC and various British companies that opened the door for the incredible penetration of British television into the American market.

He helped WNET to program Upstairs/Downstairs, Monty Python's Flying Circus and I Claudius. He also launched the program Nature and oversaw WNET's unprecedented six-year series, The Shakespeare Plays.

Robert MacNeil, former executive editor of the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, said: "Jay Iselin is a visionary figure from the heady, founding days of public television. His dedication to the need for a non-commercial alternative was passionate and he drew much from the British experience. Under Jay's leadership, many of the core programs which shaped the PBS identity were created."

Speaking in New York , British Consul-General Sir Thomas Harris said of Iselin : "His work in promoting closer cultural exchanges between the two countries is exemplary. Whether it is in advancing greater academic links, or encouraging some of the brightest students in the U.S. to attend British universities, he brings to the task a commitment and an energy which the rest of us can only admire."

Iselin served for 20 years on the board of the American Friends of Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and has chaired the New York Marshall Selection Committee since October 2001.

Before becoming president of the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation at Columbia University , Iselin served as president of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Iselin also is currently an adjunct professor in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation at Columbia University is dedicated to nurturing, recognizing and celebrating individuals whose ingenious application of communications technology has had a positive and lasting impact on human progress around the globe. Established in 1974 by Gioia Marconi Braga, the Foundation is known for the Marconi International Fellowship, awarded annually to an outstanding individual whose scope of work and influence emulate the principle of "creativity in service to humanity" that inspired Guglielmo Marconi, the father of modern communications.

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Published: June 02, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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