M. Jay Tarses, Class of 1961

Your early forays in the entertainment industry included work as co­ writer of the movies Up The Academy and The Great Muppet Caper, as Emmy Award-winning co-writer for “The Carol Burnett Show,” and as an executive producer of “The Bob Newhart Show.” But it is your offbeat creations in the world of television comedy—programs such as “Buffalo Bill,” “The ‘Slap’ Maxwell Story,” and “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd”—that have secured your reputation as an “iconoclast” and “maverick” whose brilliant and original work, while challenging traditionally-accepted conventions about the contents and goals of TV sitcoms, has received extraordinary and widespread critical acclaim. Referring to your programs as “dramatic comedies,” or “character comedies,” you have created memorable and complex characters who are, as one reviewer wrote, “something other than the collection of pretty faces and cookie-cutter personalities who seem to have been plucked intact from fashion ads,” and whose efforts to handle their problems and make sense of their lives resist any tidy resolution at the end of each 30-minute episode. While your enthusiastic and faithful fans clamor for even longer commercial runs of your productions, we applaud your steadfast commitment to providing the best that television has to offer, and we anticipate with pleasure the witty quirks and layered nuances of your future efforts. In recognition of your distinguished achievement as television creator, writer, director and producer, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.