Bloomfield College Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for its 149th Commencement

Linares and Yamba

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. – Two nationally prominent and distinguished citizens will receive honorary degrees from Bloomfield College on May 20, 2022 as part of the private, four-year College’s 149th commencement, President Marcheta P. Evans, Ph.D., announced today.

The Honorable Jose L. Linares is a retired judge and practicing attorney who broke ground as the first Hispanic to serve as Chief Judge of the United States District Court of New Jersey and as the first Cuban-born District Court Chief in  the United States. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.).

After escaping Cuba via Spain, his family eventually settled in Newark’s North Ward. As a first-generation college student, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from New Jersey City University and a Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law. He began his career as a trial lawyer at a law firm in Newark, and later started his own practice before becoming a superior court judge in Essex County. In 2002, he was nominated to the bench by then President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate.

Linares has been honored with several prestigious recognitions, including the New Jersey State Bar Distinguished Judicial Service Award, the James J. McLaughlin Professionalism Award presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association, and the Gerald B. O’Connor Award. He led the New Jersey District Court 2017 Sentencing Symposium and the 2018 New Jersey District Court National Opioid Symposium. He is also the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards.

In May 2019, he joined the law firm of McCarter & English, where he chairs its Alternate Dispute Resolution practice, and serves on the firm's Diversity Committee and as a member of its Social Justice Project Team. His zeal for improving people’s lives is further evident in his involvement in numerous civic and nonprofit activities.

Mailissa "Bisa Yamba-Butler is an award-winning professional artist who has garnered national praise for creating fiber art recognized as historically significant in telling and celebrating the history of African Americans. She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.).

In 2022, Yamba-Butler was awarded a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship, and in 2021, she was awarded a United States Artists Fellowship. As the second stop of a traveling exhibit that began at the Katonah Museum of Art in March 2020, her work was the focus of a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that ended in September 2021.

Formally trained and demonstrating a treasure of natural talent, Yamba-Butler’s art has been acquired by many private and public collections, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Nelson-Adkins Museum, 21c Museum Hotels, The Perez Art Museum Miami, The Los Angeles Museum of Art, The Kemper Museum of Art, The Orlando Museum of Art, The Newark Museum, and The Toledo Museum of Art.

As a dedicated high school teacher of art for 10 years in the Newark Public Schools, New Jersey, and three years at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, she has also inspired countless young people to find their expression through art.

Bloomfield College’s commencement is scheduled outdoors rain or shine on Friday, May 20, 2022. Attendance at the conferring of degrees is by ticket only at the College Quadrangle. For more information, visit

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