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Vol.26, No. 05 Oct. 2, 2000

John Jay Iselin Named President of Marconi Foundation; Reception Honors Fellows

By Suzanne Trimel

John Jay Iselin, a leader in public broadcasting and education and well-known New York figure, has been named president of the Marconi International Fellowship Foundation at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Iselin comes to the Marconi Foundation, named for the inventor of wireless transmission, after a distinguished career in higher education, public broadcasting, magazine journalism, publishing and public affairs. Most recently, he was the 10th president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, one of the country’s premier art, architecture and engineering schools.

“We went through a period, after the advent of the radio, when we focused on wired technology,” said Iselin. “But now we’re looking once again to the wireless world, and we have the invention of the radio, modest as it may seem now, to thank for that. I’m pleased to be here, in a place that honors the past while recognizing the wave of the future.”

Iselin, who holds degrees in history, literature, law and government, stepped down after 12 years as president of The Cooper Union in June. For 16 years before that he had been president of Channel 13, the nation’s largest public television station, where he oversaw the production of many distinguished series and programs, including “Great Performances,” “Live from Lincoln Center,” “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” “Bill Moyers Journal,” “Nature,” and “Currents,” the unprecedented six-year series of Shakespeare plays.

Prior to joining Channel 13, he was a vice president of Harper & Row Publishers from 1969 to 1971 and a correspondent in Newsweek’s Washington bureau from 1962 to 1965.

Born in Greenville, S.C., Iselin is a graduate of Harvard College and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cambridge and a doctorate in government from Harvard.

The Marconi Foundation was established in memory of Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless transmission that led to the development of radio, by his daughter Gioia Marconi Braga in 1974, 100 years after Marconi’s birth. Since then, the foundation has been honoring innovators in telecommunications whose work has advanced the public good.