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Nyack Commencement

Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

At Nyack’s 2014 Commencement ceremony three distinguished individuals will be added to our roster of honorary degree recipients: Mark Burnett, Roma Downey (20th Century Fox film “Son of God” co-producers), and Lord Edmiston (British Parliament member). In addition to receiving the Doctor of Letters, they will also be inducted into the President’s Hall of Distinction. The Hall of Distinction was established in 2008 by Nyack’s 12th president, Dr. Michael G. Scales, to commemorate the doctoral honorees and others of outstanding public influence.


With his wife Roma Downey, Mark Burnett executive produced the 20th Century Fox film “Son of God” released last month in theatres nationwide and also the 10-hour miniseries, “The Bible” (History) that premiered on the History Channel in March 2013.

A five-time Emmy Award winner Burnett has produced more than 2,400 hours of television programming, which regularly airs in more than 70 countries worldwide. Currently, his network series include "Survivor" (CBS), "The Voice" (NBC), "The Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC), “Shark Tank” (ABC) and “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host” (TBS). Burnett is one of very few producers to have had a renewed series on each of the four major networks and to have multiple series win their time slot on five nights of television in the same week.

Mark’s television profile includes a strong presence in award show franchises, having produced the “MTV Movie Awards,” “People’s Choice Awards,” the “Video Game Awards” and the “Primetime Emmy Awards.”

TIME Magazine named Mr. Burnett one of the world's most influential people and he is also listed as TV Guide’s most valuable player. He has won Brandweek’s Marketer of the Year Award, The Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, the PGA Norman Lear Award, and the prestigious FRAPA Format Award. Burnett was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2010 and was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He served two elected terms on the Board of Directors for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles. 


Over 100 million people in the U.S. alone watched “The Bible” (History Channel), which Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett executive produced. The epic ten-hour miniseries became the fastest selling DVD in the last 5 years. The February 28, 2014 released 20th Century Fox film “Son of God” has stunned the box office as the second highest faith movie opening of all time. 

The Hollywood trade publication, Variety, recognized Downey and Burnett as “Trailblazers” and listed Downey as one of the magazine’s “100 most Powerful Women in Hollywood.” The Hollywood Reporter included the couple in their “Most Influential People of 2013.” Downey won the 2014 ‘Movie Guide Grace Award’ for her role as Mother Mary and shared ‘The Epiphany Award’ with her husband for producing ‘The Bible’ series.

With her company, LightWorkers Media, Downey is the executive producer of the popular children's DVD and book series “Little Angels” and its companion “Little Angels Storybook Bible.”  For many years Downey has been a spokesperson for Operation Smile, a volunteer organization that takes free surgical services around the globe to children born with facial deformities. She has travelled to developing countries making fund raising films on their behalf.

Downey and Burnett are producing “The Dovekeepers” for CBS and “A.D.” for NBC. These period dramas are both set to air in 2015.  Downey and Burnett have co-authored a companion book to the Bible series “A Story of God and All of Us.” The book is available now from Faith Words.


​Born in India in 1946, Lord Edmiston, the son of a war time fighter pilot, came to the UK at the age of three and subsequently spent, from age of ten, five years in Kenya before returning to the UK in 1962 where he currently resides.

Until 2010 he was the Chairman of the Midlands Industrial Council, a group of leading Midlands industrialists and businessmen who maintain a close dialogue with senior politicians. On January 18, 2011, he was introduced into the House of Lords, which provides a platform for him to be a voice in politics and both business and social issues.

Climbing the ranks from his start as a bank clerk, Lord Edmiston is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Today he owns a number of companies in the property, motor, and finance sectors with a combined turnover of approximately £500 million.

In the early 90s, I.M. acquired a publicly quoted property company called BHH, which is now known as I.M. Properties PLC and is now the largest company in the Group. I.M. Group also owns a finance company. The car business, which formed part of the original I.M. Group, now imports and distributes Japanese and Chinese cars and parts in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Baltics. I.M. Group has a Beijing office which supports Group activities and operates as a consultancy and a trading house on behalf of third party clients.

Lord Edmiston and his wife, Tracie, are the founders of a charitable trust called Christian Vision that operates in a variety of countries and spearheads charitable and Christian media projects. In the UK, Lord and Lady Edmiston have sponsored and are governors of three schools called Grace Academy serving some 3,000 students between the ages of 11 and 18.