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2007 Honorary Doctoral Degrees

Doctor of Commercial Science

For more than 40 years, George M. Gentile was the driving force behind
Gerber Scientific, Inc.

When Gentile joined Gerber in 1963, the company had $3 million in revenue. Over the course of his long career there, he served in key financial and management positions, eventually becoming chairman and CEO in 1996. Thanks to Gentile, today Gerber has blossomed into a $530 million high-technology business with 2,200 employees worldwide.

Gentile holds a B.S. and an M.B.A. from the Barney School of Business and was a standout soccer player as an undergraduate. He received the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997 and the Vincent Brown Coffin Award in 1999, which honors former student-athletes who demonstrate excellence in their professional careers. Gentile is also a member of the board of regents.

Doctor of Fine Arts

Kent McCray graduated from The Hartt School and immediately went to work in the early days of television. His projects included such legendary programs as The Red Skelton Show and This Is Your Life.

In the early 1960s McCray produced the NBC western The High Chaparral, which led to a 30-year partnership and friendship with actor/producer Michael Landon. Together they produced Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, among others.

The McCrays are enthusiastic University supporters. An alumni regent for 10 years, Kent is now an honorary regent. His wife, Susan, who is a regent, has donated some of her father’s career memorabilia to be housed as The Harry Sukman Foyer at Hartt. In 2005 the University’s television studio was officially named for Kent in recognition of his leadership gift to the University.

Doctor of Fine Arts

As a student, Dollie McLean studied with the Katherine Dunham School of Dance and with Martha Graham, among others.

Later she pursued a career in theatre and was a member of the famed Negro Ensemble Company in New York. She also appeared in off-Broadway productions as a dancer and actress and was an artist’s model.

In 1970 she moved to Hartford with her late husband, Jackie McLean, a world-famous jazz saxophonist. Together they founded the Artists Collective, which she still leads as founding executive director. Serving more than 1,200 children a year from the Hartford area, the Collective provides much needed exposure to the arts.

In addition to dance, music, drama, visual and martial arts, the award-winning center also teaches social skills, how to succeed at school, and the value of community responsibility.

Jackie McLean (1931-2006)

Doctor of Music - Presented posthumously

Internationally known alto saxophonist Jackie McLean grew up in Harlem, where he played with bebop pianist Bud Powell and trumpeter Miles Davis as a teenager. He then became a protégé of the saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, who greatly influenced him.

In 1970 he set performing aside and moved to Hartford. McLean became a teaching assistant at The Hartt School and with his wife, Dollie, founded the Artists Collective, an interdisciplinary arts and cultural center that has provided arts education to thousands of local children.

In 1980 McLean founded the Department of African American Music at Hartt and later established a degree program in jazz studies. In 2000, the University renamed the Department of African American Music as the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. He received a Jazz Masters grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001.