The Kutztown University Council of Trustees approved the awarding of an honorary doctorate degree on Thursday, Nov. 2, to Mark R. Weaver, Esq. ’83, M’85. Weaver will be presented a Doctor of Laws at the institution’s 2023 Fall Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at O’Pake Fieldhouse.
A Pennsylvania native and current Ohio resident, Weaver is a nationally respected attorney and crisis communications expert with nearly four decades of experience advising clients, including governors, U.S. Senators, Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, as well as business and education leaders. Along the way, he has worked in all three branches and at every level of government.
His government posts have included serving as spokesman for Abington Township (PA) and communications director with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Just a few years after earning his second degree from Kutztown University, President Ronald Reagan appointed Weaver to be a spokesman for the United States Department of Justice in Washington.
Following his work in the nation’s capital, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General of Ohio, where he helped manage the work of an office with 1,400 employees, 30,000 cases, and a front-page legal issue every week. He later joined a major Columbus (OH) law firm as a litigation partner. In that role, he regularly argues in the Supreme Court of Ohio and serves as a special prosecutor across the state, bringing charges against violent criminals, including murderers, rapists, and those who prey on children. In one high-profile case, he was part of the prosecution team that sent a notorious serial killer to death row. He has also served as a judicial magistrate and Acting Judge, presiding over a local court when the judge is away. In this role, he has sentenced hundreds of offenders in misdemeanor cases.
KU President Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson praised Weaver as an outstanding example of the success KU students achieve. “Mark Weaver has a national reputation in law, communications, and government, and he regularly attributes his exceptional success to the academic preparation he received at KU,” Hawkinson said. “Kutztown University is proud to recognize him with this prestigious academic honor.”
As a freshman at KU, Weaver was elected president of Lehigh Hall and later held top positions on Student Government Board and as a resident assistant in Berks, Rothermel, and Johnson halls. He was a student legal advocate who advised and represented fellow students going through the campus judicial system. As a senior, he served as chairman of the Student Faculty Judicial Board, the panel considering appeals of campus disciplinary issues.
Weaver earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from Kutztown University, where he also served as a graduate teaching assistant in the political science department. His senior year internship was with the Montgomery County (PA) Juvenile Probation Department; he later wrote his master’s thesis on the juvenile probation system.
Following additional graduate studies at the University of Delaware, Weaver earned his Juris Doctorate from the Delaware Law School, where he graduated in the top 15% of his class. The University of Akron awarded Weaver an honorary certificate in Applied Politics and later named him Distinguished Chair of that university’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. He is a 1979 graduate of Abington High School, where he was recently inducted into its Hall of Fame.
KU previously honored Weaver with its inaugural Early Career Excellence Alumni Award and later with the Rothermel Outstanding Alumni Award. KU’s Student Government Board also recognized him with its own Distinguished Alumni Award. He was featured in the Summer 2017 edition of Tower, the university magazine.
Weaver takes his zeal for Kutztown around the country, where he’s still introduced at speaking engagements as a proud KU grad, even to those unfamiliar with the university.
“My undergraduate and graduate education at Kutztown University was always a sturdy cornerstone of my professional endeavors,” Weaver said. “I will always be grateful for the kindness and wisdom of professors, mentors, and friends whom I met in that very special place.”
Weaver regularly lectures around the country on a wide variety of legal and communications topics. He spent two decades as an adjunct professor at The Ohio State University College of Law and the graduate school at the University of Akron. He is now an adjunct professor at the School of Government at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Minoring in telecommunications and working as a disc jockey and production manager at the KU radio station prepared Weaver well for his work in communications and media. He has produced more than a thousand TV and radio commercials for campaigns and candidates, earning a dozen national awards for creativity.
His op-ed writing is regularly featured in Newsweek and has been featured in USA Today, the Washington Post, and other major U.S. newspapers. He has been interviewed by every major national media outlet in America, including 60 Minutes and Nightline.
He is the author of an acclaimed book on communications, “A Wordsmith’s Work,” now in its fourth edition. He is finishing a second non-fiction book on crisis communications and is working to publish his first novel next year.
Weaver and his wife, Lori, reside in Central Ohio and are the proud parents of two grown children and an infant grandson.