Bloomfield announces Honorary Degree recipients

By: Andrew Mees, Director of Institutional Communications and Campaign Marketing                      

Four prominent national citizens will receive honorary degrees from Bloomfield College as part of the school’s 142nd Commencement Ceremonies, the institution’s President, Richard Levao, announced today.

Recipients will include Dr. Charles Johnson, writer, academic, artist, philosopher; Martin McKerrow, former Neuberger Berman managing director and departing Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees; Robert Unanue, Goya Foods, Inc. President and broadcast journalist Mary Alice Williams (NJTV).

“Our recipients come from a wide variety of backgrounds including journalism, the arts, business and manufacturing,” said Levao. “They embody the diversity of our society; including ethnicity, gender and profession.”


Charles Johnson

Dr. Charles Johnson is an award-winning writer, academic, artist and philosopher, with a career spanning five decades as one of the preeminent voices of his generation.

Presenting his messages to the world through fiction, nonfiction, screenplays and drawings, Johnson’s career began as an artist in the early 1970’s, with over 1,000 of his drawings appearing in national publications such as The New YorkTimes and later compiled in the 2002 book “Humor Me: An Anthology of Humor by Writers of Color”.

As an author, Johnson has published numerous works of fiction, including the 1990 book “Middle Passage”, which won the distinguished U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Also a writer of short stories, he has published three collections of original works, including “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (1986), “Soulcatcher and Other Stories (2001), and “Dr. King’s Refrigerator and Other Bedtime Stories (2005).

Composing over 20 screenplays during his career, his work includes “Booker”, a story about the childhood of Booker T. Washington that received a Writers Guild Award for being the “outstanding script in 1985 in the category of Television Children’s Shows”. In addition, he created, hosted and co-produced “Charlie’s Pad”, a PBS how-to-draw series from 1970-1980 and served as one of two writer-producers on the PBS Series “Up and Coming” in 1981.


Martin McKerrow

A former partner and managing director at global asset manager Neuberger Berman, McKerrow enjoyed a 22-year career at the firm, including a stint as Executive Director of the organization’s joint venture with international banking institution BNP Paribas.

Joining the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees in 2000, McKerrow will step down as Chair of the board following the school’s Commencement Ceremonies, a position he has held since 2004. The completion of the school’s largest construction project in its history, the Franklin Street Residence Hall, in August 2014 serves as the crowning achievement of a tenure that has seen the implementation of a ten-year campus master plan to revamp Bloomfield’s grounds and a commitment to maintaining affordability and access for current and prospective students.


Robert Unanue

Prior to being named President of Goya Foods, Robert “Bob” Unanue held several key positions at the company both in the United States and abroad. At a young age, Bob worked in GOYA’s production line, packing olives and olive oil in Brooklyn, NY. While in college, he studied accounting at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., as well as at the University of Seville where he was instrumental in establishing GOYA’s foothold in Spain. Today, the Seville unit of GOYA is a significant olive exporter to the United States.

After holding several positions within the organization – including President of GOYA Foods in California and Florida – he was appointed the President of the organization in 2004.

Today, GOYA Foods is America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company providing consumers with over 2,200 high-quality and affordable food products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Central and South America. The organization has been a proud supporter of programs, scholarships and activities that benefit families and children around the world including the GOYA Foods Scholarship Program, which awards annual scholarships to eligible workers and children of GOYA employees, brokers, and independent drivers to attend either two or four-year higher education institutions.


Mary Alice Williams

With a career spanning 35 years in broadcast journalism, Mary Alice Williams has been on the front lines of the world’s biggest stories for networks including CNN, NBC News and NJTV.

One of the primary architects behind the creation of CNN, Williams oversaw the construction of CNN’s New York Bureau at the World Trade Center prior to the launch of Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980 and served as the channel’s principal anchor and Vice President in charge of the New York Bureau until 1989. She was appointed Vice President in 1982, becoming one of the highest-ranking female executives in American television.

After her tenure at CNN, Williams was an anchor on the NBC News team that won a national Emmy Award for its coverage of the fall of communism. During her stint with NBC from 1989–1993, she also anchored programs including “Sunday Today”, “NBC News Special Reports”, “Yesterday Today & Tomorrow” and NBC’s extended coverage of “Desert Storm: War in the Gulf”. Williams was also a frequent anchor and correspondent for “NBC Nightly News”, “Sunrise” and “The Today Show”. As host of Hallmark’s weekly “True North” program on personal ethics, Williams earned the 2001 Gracie Allen Award and the 2001 Donald McGannon Ethics in Media Award. 

Currently the host of NJTV News (the network’s weeknight news broadcast), Williams assumed the role in July 2014, continuing her decorated career by making a full-time return to public television.


Bloomfield will hold its annual Commencement Ceremonies on May 21 at 9 a.m. in the College’s outdoor Quad section of the campus. For more information, visit

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