Seton Hall University

2021 Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Thursday, May 20, 2021 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient

Ambassador Laurence Francis Rooney, III, J.DAmbassador Laurence Francis Rooney, III, J.D.

Ambassador Francis Rooney represented Florida's 19th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives from 2017 to 2021. From 2005 to 2008, he served as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See, appointed by President George W. Bush and subsequently wrote a book about diplomacy and the US-Holy See relationship titled The Global Vatican.

He is a successful businessman who brought decades of private sector experience to government. From 1984 to 2005 he served as CEO of Rooney Holdings, Inc., a diversified group of companies engaged in construction, energy, real estate development, finance and electronics manufacturing. 

One of the company's subsidiaries is Manhattan Construction Company, which was founded in 1896 and is in the fifth generation of Rooney family management and ownership. Significant projects the company has built  include the Presidential Libraries for both George H. W. Bush in College Station, Texas, and George W. Bush in Dallas, Texas; the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans football stadiums; the U. S. Capitol Visitor's Center; the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research; and the International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. The company is currently completing one of the few biohazard level four medical and research facilities for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Detrick, Maryland. 

Ambassador Rooney has served on numerous public and private boards, including Naples Community Hospital, St. Francis Hospital (Tulsa), the Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation, the University of Oklahoma College of International Studies, the University of Tulsa, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, the Trust for the National Mall (DC), the Advisory Board of the Panama Canal Authority and the Young Presidents' Organization (for which he served as the International President in 1997-1998). He has served as a director of several publicly traded companies including Helmerich & Payne, Cimarex, Laredo Petroleum, Bank of Oklahoma, and Amarant (formerly Mercantil Commercebank). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Partnership for Responsible Growth, the Council on Foreign Relations and The Interamerican Dialogue.

A graduate of Georgetown University (A.B.1975) and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.  1978), Rooney has honorary degrees from the University of Notre Dame (2006) and the University of Dallas (2010). He is a former member of the Texas and District of Columbia Bars, and holds a U. S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Masters License (sailing endorsement).

In the 115th Congress, Rooney served as Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and as a member of the Joint Economic Committee. In the 116th Congress, Rooney served as the ranking member of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He was the Republican co-chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus and a member of the bi-partisan Everglades and Estuary caucuses, which focus on restoring Florida's ecosystems. He was successful in accomplishing his primary objectives in Congress: extending the 2006 moratorium on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and fully funding the projects contained in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), to protect and restore the Lake Okeechobee watershed. He was considered the most bipartisan Republican member in Congress and pushed for action on climate change. He was one of two Republicans to introduce carbon tax bills in the 116th Congress. He was the only Republican to vote for the $15 minimum wage and to oppose both of the administration's emergency declarations to take DOD appropriations to build the border wall. He was one of several to oppose the Kirshner single state proposal for Israel-Palestine. He was the 1st, and nearly only, Republican Congressman to call on Trump to concede the election.

He has published more than 150 op ed articles including "Time to Concede- The Peaceful Transfer of Power is an American Tradition," The Hill 15 Nov 2020; "Climate is on the Ballot in Florida This November," Naples Daily News and other Gannett Florida papers 29 Sept 2020; "Reactionary Populism Will Tear Us Apart If We Don't Address Inequality," Real Clear Policy, with Cong. Ro Kanna, 27 January 2020; "Saving the Oceans- One Place Where Congress Can Agree," Grist Fix, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, 7 June 2019; "Are We Done With China Now?," The National Review, 5 May 2020; "Here's How We Should Make Putin Pay for What Russia Has Done," Newsweek, 3 May 2018; "Time To Pay Attention to Latin America in an Era of Change," The Hill, 12 March 2018.

He and his wife Kathleen live in Naples Florida, and Washington, DC, and have three children: Larry, married to Porscha; Michael, married to Frances; and Kathleen, married to Rob; one grandson, Beckett; and one granddaughter, Bergen.

Ambassador Rooney is fluent in Spanish and regularly gives talks and interviews in Spanish, and conversational in Italian.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient

His Eminence, Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R.His Eminence, Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R.

The son of the late Joseph W. Tobin and Marie Terese Kerwin, His Eminence, Joseph William Cardinal Tobin was born on May 3, 1952 in Detroit, MI. He is the oldest of 13 children.

Joseph Tobin attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School in Detroit, and then graduated from St. Joseph’s Prep College, Edgerton, WI in 1970. He continued his education at Holy Redeemer College, Waterford, WI, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1975. From 1977 until 1979, he attended Mount Saint Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, NY, earning masters degrees in Religious Education in 1977 and Divinity in 1979.

In 1973, Joseph Tobin professed vows as a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists. In 1976, he professed perpetual vows with the Community. In 1978, he was ordained to both the diaconate and the priesthood. Between 1979 and 1984, Father Tobin served as associate pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, Detroit, where he engaged in both pastoral ministry to the Hispanic community and youth ministry. In 1984, he was named pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish. He also served in a number of diocesan assignments within the Archdiocese of Detroit, including: Episcopal Vicar; member of the Presbyteral Council, and official in the Metropolitan Tribunal.
From 1990 until 1991, he served as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago, a parish staffed in that Archdiocese by the Redemptorists.

Within the Redemptorist Community, Father Tobin served as a Provincial Consultor from 1984 until 1990, as General Consultor of the Community in Rome from 1991 until 1997, and as Superior General of the Redemptorists in Rome from 1997 until 2009.

On August 9, 2010, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, named Father Tobin to the Roman Curia post of Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSA), and titular Archbishop of Obba. On October 18, 2012, Pope Benedict appointed him to serve as the Sixth Archbishop of Indianapolis. He was installed as Archbishop of Indianapolis on December 3, 2012. His Holiness, Pope Francis, named him to the College of Cardinals on October 9, 2016. He was created Cardinal on November 19, 2016.

Cardinal Tobin speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese, and reads several other languages. He has participated in five Synods of Bishops and has been a member of the Canon Law Society of America since 1985.

On November 7, 2016, His Holiness, Pope Francis named Joseph William Cardinal Tobin to serve as the Sixth Archbishop of Newark.

Learn more about Cardinal Tobin.

Honorary Degree Recipient

Kenneth F. Kunzman, LL.B.Kenneth F. Kunzman, LL.B.

Kenneth F. Kunzman was Chairman of the Connell Foley Executive Committee from 1995 to 2002. He has been a partner in the firm since 1968 and has been responsible for a variety of areas of law including corporate transactions and trusts and estates. He has served as counsel to family trusts for over 30 years.

For 11 years, Kunzman was directly responsible for a real estate development project in Jersey City and Bayonne, creating waterfront property and erecting a container port. More recently, he has represented various corporate entities in mergers and acquisition contracts, real estate development and trials. Kunzman has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for over 10 years for civil litigation and in New Jersey Super Lawyers since that publication's inception.

Additionally, Kunzman serves as Chair and Trustee of the Corella A. and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey, which provides scholarships to needy students of 26 colleges based upon community service.  He is Trustee Emeritus of Caldwell College, former Trustee of St. Peter's Prep and Co-Chairman Emeritus of Seton Hall University Pirate Blue Fund. For over a decade, he has loyally served as Outside Counsel to Seton Hall University.
Kunzman served as a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Scholarship Fund for Inner City Children and is the former Chairman of the Essex Legal Services Foundation, where he continues to serve as a Trustee. He served as Captain, U.S. Air Force from 1962-1965.

Kunzman has also received several honors including: Lifetime Achievement Award, New Jersey Alliance for Action (2019); Lifetime Achievement Award, Essex County Bar Association (2019), Archbishop Gerety Award, Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children (2019); New Jersey's Irish American Leaders, Inside NJ (2018, 2019), etc.

Kunzman received his A.B. from the College of the Holy Cross (1954), his LL.B. from Fordham University (1961), and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Waynesburg College (2005).

Learn more about Kenneth F. Kunzman, LL.B.