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University announces 2014 Commencement speakers

April 22, 2014

Saint Francis University will hold Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 11, on the Loretto campus in the Stokes Athletics Center. There will be two ceremonies that day; the graduate ceremony at 10 a.m., and the undergraduate ceremony at 2 p.m. This year 751 students (377 undergraduate/374 graduate) will earn degrees from Saint Francis. The complete schedule of events is available online http://francis.edu/commencement/

Graduate Ceremony Speaker
The speaker for the graduate ceremony will be a graduate of the class of 1984, Louis C. Schmitt Jr, a 27-year legal veteran who now focuses on keeping cases out of court.

In fact, he founded ADR Solutions, a Duncansville, PA, mediation firm, in 2013 with that sole purpose in mind. ADR (which stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution) Solutions mediates legal disagreements between individuals or corporations. He is a partner in the Hollidaysburg law firm of McIntyre, Hartye, Schmitt & Sosnowski. His specialty is civil litigation.

As a favor to a local judge some years ago, he began to serve as a pro bono mediator. He saw the process begin to work and sought formal mediation training. He now is a certified mediator.

While Schmitt admits it is counter-intuitive for a lawyer to mediate, in other ways, he says, it makes perfect sense. “Only a law warrior could do this [mediation],” says Schmitt. His extensive experience in trial litigation gives him the credibility with all the involved parties. “Experience and personal integrity—that’s what I try to bring to the mediation process,” he adds.
The goal of mediation is to help the parties make the best decision for themselves. “It’s really self-determination,” he says, and the mediator facilitates the process.

A legal career seemed foreordained for Schmitt, who was riveted by the TV series, Perry Mason, as a youngster. He says he was so impressed by Mason’s great mind, quick wit and personal integrity that he knew that’s what he wanted to do. “So I ended up being Louie Mason,” he quips.

Undergraduate Ceremony Speaker
Thomas Cosgrove, class of 1979, will be the commencement speaker at the undergraduate ceremony. Though he earned a B.S. in management from Saint Francis in 1979, Cosgrove admits that the most fun he had was when he took a history course. That love of history and politics has sustained him through a myriad of job changes and set the stage for his becoming one of the top political strategists in the U.S. His history instructor, now Associate Professor Emeritus Mr. John Murphy, recommended he apply for a newly established internship through the Washington Center for Learning Alternatives in the nation’s capital, and he did just that.

The green movement was in its beginning stages when Cosgrove arrived in Washington to work for the environmental group, Coast Alliance. He says he started out on the internship selling T-shirts for the “Year of the Coast,” and ended up being hired by Laurance Rockefeller, Jr., as a grassroots organizer on a Barrier Island environmental education campaign. And he’s been involved in politics ever since.
His life in politics has been played out on an increasingly bigger stage. He has been a field director for the National Clean Air Coalition, worked on Congressional and Senate races in Connecticut and on the Mondale and Dukakis Presidential campaigns. He also served as northeast regional representative for the Sierra Club.

At a political dinner in 1985, he met Edward Rendell, and the two men became friends. When Rendell decided to run for mayor of Philadelphia in 1987, he picked the then 29-year-old Tom Cosgrove as his campaign manager.

Cosgrove also assisted with James Florio’s successful gubernatorial campaign in New Jersey, before deciding to venture out on his own. In 1990, he co-founded MacWilliams Cosgrove Smith Robinson, Inc., a campaign consulting business. It was an effective partnership that helped elect the Congressional Class of ’98 that defied tradition by actually gaining seats for the party occupying the White House.

The following year he formed The Cosgrove Group, a consulting firm specializing in solving communications problems.

Cosgrove’s biggest political coup to date came as program director for the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston. He wanted to highlight a new generation of Democrats, and that included a state senator from Chicago. Barack Obama’s address at the convention was his national political debut.

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is another name from The Cosgrove Group’s client list. For CCUSA’s centennial celebration in 2010, The Cosgrove Group developed a campaign to address poverty in America, and anchored it with the publication of the much-cited Think and Act Anew: How Poverty in America Affects Us All and What We Can Do About It,” by CCUSA president, the Rev. Larry Snyder.
Cosgrove now is part of a non-profit organization utilizing wiki technology as a catalyst for change. New Voice Strategies works with stakeholder groups—including the White House-- to solve difficult problems. For instance, the organization has worked on a wide range of education issues and on women in the workplace guidelines.

Honorary Degree Recipient
Senator John N. Wozniak (PA-35) will receive an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters during the undergraduate ceremony. A leading advocate on higher education issues in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Senator Wozniak has been a constant champion for the Saint Francis University Science Center. Recognizing the University's role in education and research and understanding the need for students to learn in a cutting-edge science and technology environment, he was tireless in his efforts to secure critical support for the Science Center. He inserted authorizing language to build the new facility in the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act of 2010-82 and convinced his caucus leadership and Governor Edward Rendell to allocate funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for its construction. Following the election of a new administration in 2012, Senator Wozniak ensured that the project remained a priority in the State Capitol and encouraged Governor Tom Corbett to release the funding. Because of Senator Wozniak's perseverance, the University received $7 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for construction of the Science Center which opened for the fall 2013 semester.