Geneseo awarded its first-ever Medal of Distinction to Glenn Gordon Caron, a 1975 alumnus and Emmy award-winning television producer.
The Medal of Distinction was conceived last year and will serve as "the most prestigious award that is given to a Geneseo alumnus," said Michael Catillaz, vice president for college advancement.
Catillaz said the award recognizes an alumnus who has exhibited professional achievement and contribution to society, specifically "contributions which characterize a life of consequence and purpose that have bettered the circumstances of others and therefore have brought pride and luster to the college of Geneseo."
The Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors will confer the award in conjunction with the president of the college as circumstances arise; it is not an annual award but may be granted multiple times in one year, Catillaz said.
While an undergraduate, Caron majored in drama and immersed himself in campus activities.
"I felt like I was very busy the whole time I was at Geneseo," Caron said, "and that was great preparation for the real world."
In addition to helping to create KINO, the branch of Activities Commission that presents free film screenings to students, Caron acted and directed for the theatre department and worked with the campus radio and TV stations.
Caron said that while Geneseo does not offer a film studies major, "everyone was always very encouraging" when he expressed an interest in being a film director. "[Professors] taught me how art is created and how the written word drives everything."
After graduating, Caron spent a year and a half working small jobs in gas stations and movie theaters before he was hired by an advertising agency in New York.
While employed at the advertising agency, Caron continued writing scripts on his own time and sent them to a fellow Geneseo alumna, Mary Cullen '75, who was working in California as an executive assistant. One of the scripts caught NBC's attention and Caron began working on a new series.
That show never took off, but Caron's career gained momentum when his writing caught the eye of Jim Brooks, a writer for the show "Taxi."
Eventually Caron created Picturemaker Productions and went on to create shows for ABC. Caron's most well-known TV shows include "Moonlighting," which aired from 1985-1989, and "Medium," 2005-2011. Both shows have won numerous awards and in 2007, Caron received the Outstanding Television Writer Award at the 14th Austin Film Festival.
Caron has also worked on movies: he directed the 1988 hit Clean and Sober, starring Michael Keaton and Morgan Freeman, and wrote the 1997 romantic comedy Picture Perfect featuring Jennifer Aniston.
Ideas for shows and movies come from all different places, Caron said. "There's no one source for inspiration."
"Write what you care about," Caron said. "Don't write with the idea that something would sell … and just write. It's easy not to; writing is lonely, but just keep at it."
In addition to achieving professional success, Caron has exhibited philanthropy toward AIDS research and charities allied to the performing arts, Catillaz said.
Years of hard work have gotten Caron to the top, but he said he still remembers Geneseo as being "a magical place."
"I hold that time of my life with great regard," he said, "and I'm incredibly flattered and honored that the college chose me to receive this first award."
Additional reporting for this article was contributed by Kevin Muller, managing editor.