Bill D’Elia, an executive producer and director of the hit ABC television series “How to Get Away with Murder,” has been selected to deliver the main address at Ithaca College’s 2017 Commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 21. D’Elia graduated in 1969 with a degree in television-radio from the college’s Roy H. Park School of Communications.
An eight-time Emmy Award and four-time Golden Globe nominee, D’Elia has produced and/or directed some of the most critically acclaimed television programs of the past two decades, including “The West Wing,” “Grey’s Anatomy, “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal,” “Chicago Hope” and “Glee.”
“Bill D’Elia exemplifies one of the most important objectives of an IC education: to foster in our students an aesthetic appreciation and creative vision that allows them to use their talents for the benefit of others,” said Ithaca College President Tom Rochon. “His career as a producer and director has been widely varied, united only by the continuous thread of success. I know Bill’s remarks on Commencement day will serve to inspire our graduating seniors.”
“Bill D’Elia’s stellar accomplishments in the television industry have been nothing short of impressive,” said Ciara Lucas, president of the Senior Class. “His ability to tell compelling stories through his work is motivating and encourages critical thinking. It’s an honor to have him address the Class of 2017 on graduation day.”
Now in its third season, “How to Get Away with Murder” has been named one of the top 10 television programs of the year by the American Film Institute and won the award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 46th NAACP Image Awards and 26th GLAAD Media Awards.
“Boston Legal” was honored in 2005 with a Peabody Award — which recognizes distinguished and meritorious public service by the media — “for fearing neither silliness nor social commentary and for adroitly combining the two.” Along with frequent producing partner David E. Kelley, D’Elia was among the first recipients of the Television Academy Honors given by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to recognize those who create “television with a conscience.”
“I consider myself first and foremost a storyteller, who has had the great good fortune to be able to tell some entertaining stories on television over the past several decades,” said D’Elia. “That storytelling journey began at Ithaca College. To come back to the South Hill campus to address the graduating class of 2017 is a singular honor I will forever cherish.”
While a student, D’Elia took classes from the renowned “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling, who served as a visiting professor. In 2011, he delivered the keynote address at the college’s Rod Serling Conference.
D’Elia began his career directing hundreds of television commercials through his own New York–based production company. His commercials received numerous industry honors, including the Addy, Clio and Telly awards. He made his feature film directing debut in 1990 with “The Feud,” and his television directing debut the following year, helming multiple episodes of the Emmy Award–winning “Northern Exposure.”
D’Elia co-created the hit series “Judging Amy” and was executive producer/director of “Harry’s Law,” “Monday Mornings” and “The Crazy Ones,” which marked the return of Robin Williams to series television. He has also directed Netflix and Comedy Central specials starring his son, the comedian and actor Chris D'Elia.