Three University of Hartford alumni—a top executive at Cigna, a prolific composer for television and film, and the director of NBC’s Meet the Press—will be honored during the University’s undergraduate Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 18.
Mark Boxer ‘83, who is global chief information officer for Cigna, will receive the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the main, University-wide Commencement ceremony on the University Green. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to a University graduate who has made an exceptional impact on his/her profession, community, and the University.
The 2014 Hartt Alumni Award will be conferred on composer Ed Alton ‘81 during The Hartt School’s diploma presentation ceremony in Lincoln Theater, immediately following the main Commencement ceremony.
In addition, Meet the Press director Rob Melick ’96, ‘98 will be recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Hillyer College during Hillyer’s diploma presentation ceremony in Millard Auditorium, immediately following the main Commencement ceremony.
Mark Boxer ‘83 — University Distinguished Alumni Award
Mark Lewis Boxer ’83 is global chief information officer at Cigna, where he is responsible for driving the company’s worldwide technology strategy and ensuring that the company’s infrastructure and applications are innovative, flexible, and aligned with both the business strategy and the needs of customers, partners, and employees.
Prior to joining Cigna, Boxer was group president for government healthcare at Xerox Corporation. He also served as deputy global chief information officer for Xerox, where he oversaw the development of all software products and information services. Prior to Xerox, he served in various leadership roles at WellPoint, Healthsource, and Hewlett Packard.
Boxer earned both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in physics from the University of Hartford in 1983. He earned his Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Science in information systems from Drexel University. He holds a doctorate in global public health from the Arizona School of Health Sciences.
A trustee of the Bushnell Performing Arts Center, Boxer also serves on the boards of the University of Connecticut Foundation and the Connecticut Children’s Law Center. He oversees Cigna’s venture innovation fund, serves as an outside director for Grange Mutual Insurance, and is a member of the advisory boards of Health Enterprise Partners and Parthenon Capital. Boxer has been recognized as one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders and by Insurance & Technology Magazine as an Elite Eight technologist. He is a business advocate and champion of advancing the employment of the disabled, having received both the Tony Coelho Award, named after the coauthor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Justice for All Award, given by the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Ed Alton ‘81 — Hartt Alumni Award
Ed Alton, BMus ’81, has had an impressive and prolific career in the Los Angeles TV, film, and recording industries for nearly 30 years. To date, he has composed scores for more than 530 episodes of 31 different prime time network TV series and performed as bassist on over 70 feature film soundtracks. He has received numerous honors, including five ASCAP Top TV Composer Awards, an Emmy nomination, and several Gold and Platinum record awards.
Some of Alton’s more prominent TV compositions include the scores for the 1980s hit series Head of the Class, the top-10 rated series Suddenly Susan, and The Single Guy, both of which ran during the peak of NBC’s successful Thursday night “Must See TV” reign. Recent well-known series have included My Boys on TBS and Whitney on NBC. His music is augmented by his multi-instrumental skills, since he personally plays many of the instruments used on his own soundtracks.
In 1998, Alton’s song performed by Bernadette Peters on the CBS series The Closer was recognized with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music & Lyrics. In 1997, Daily Variety recognized Alton as one of TV’s top theme composers when it listed him as #5 among Nielsen’s "Top '90s TV Themesters." His Single Guy theme was included on the popular Greatest TV Themes of the ‘90s CD.
Alton’s work in the recording industry includes arranging and conducting on the Britney Spears multi-Platinum CD In the Zone, and performances on the Gold Record-winning albums Flying Cowboys by Rikki Lee Jones as well as the soundtrack to the film The Breakfast Club. Alton also has written scores for three musicals for the stage. As a studio musician, Alton performed bass on the soundtracks of such popular films as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Ghost Busters 2, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, City Slickers, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He has also performed and toured internationally with The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Rob Melick '96, '98 — Hillyer College Distinguished Alumnus Award
Rob Melick ’96, ‘98 is the director of NBC’s award-winning Sunday morning news show, Meet The Press.
Melick earned an associate’s degree from Hillyer College and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communication from the College of Arts and Sciences. While at the University of Hartford, Melick was highly motivated to get as much television experience as possible. He immersed himself in the Student Television Network, STN-2, and he had internships at Hartford’s NBC affiliate and at the Fox Network in New York City.
Melick’s career took off from there, as he directed news broadcasts in Rochester, N.Y., Hartford, and Philadelphia, earning a reputation for his talent, dedication, and tireless work ethic. His stellar reputation and his network of mentors helped earn Melick a spot as director of the weekly political television show Fox News Sunday, based in Washington, D.C. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Melick produced shows on the road in 26 different states, and he has directed everything from Oval Office interviews to broadcasts from Afghanistan.
Melick’s meteoric rise and his outstanding work brought him to the attention of NBC, and in 2010 he became the director of Meet The Press, the longest-running show on network television and a venerable institution in the worlds of public affairs, politics, and foreign policy.