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Ed Kearney ’74 to Give 2024 Commencement Address

Wyoming Valley native, philanthropist, and King’s alumnus Ed Kearney ’74, founder and chairman of Kearney & Company P.C.—one of the largest certified public accounting firms in the United States—will deliver the address for the 75th annual King’s College Commencement on Friday, May 17, 2024, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Kearney will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree along with Sister Mary Persico, president of Marywood University, and Thomas P. Leary, president of Luzerne County Community College (LCCC), both of whom are being celebrated for their exemplary contributions to higher education in Northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond.

man in suit poses for portrait

More than 400 students will have either bachelor’s or master’s degrees conferred at the event. The procession of graduates will begin at 12:30 p.m. with the ceremony following at 1:00 p.m. A complete commencement schedule is available at .

“Ed Kearney is the living embodiment of our mission to form ‘graduates who will champion the inherent dignity of every person and mobilize their skills and talents to serve the common good,’” said King’s College president Rev. Thomas P. Looney, C.S.C., Ph.D. “This is an alumnus who has not only achieved the highest level of professional success, but also devoted himself to nurturing that drive in future generations through incredible personal engagement and financial generosity. I can’t think of a better role model to address and inspire this year’s graduates as they enter the next important chapter of their lives.” 

“We’re also grateful for the opportunity to recognize Mary Persico and Thomas Leary for their decades of service to making higher education more accessible to students from all walks of life,” continued Father Looney. “Dismantling barriers to entry is a mission we all share, and their work is an inspiration that other colleges from across the country can draw upon.”

About the Honorees

Kearney & Company P.C., based in Alexandria, Va., is the 31st largest certified public accounting (CPA) firm in the United States and the largest CPA firm focused exclusively on federal financial management.

Kearney’s philanthropy includes student scholarship funds at George Mason University, Howard University, the Virginia Society of CPAs, and King’s College. In 2020, the Kearney family committed $1 million to fund two annual full-tuition scholarships for junior and senior accounting majors at King’s College based on academic merit, economic need, and civic service. Afterwards, the College’s accounting program was renamed the Kearney & Company Department of Accounting.

Kearney, who serves on the College’s board of directors, also supports the accounting program with multiple internship and employment opportunities. His company has hired more than 70 King’s College graduates to date.

Kearney’s reputation for financial success, quality service, employee retention, and high ethical standards has earned him and his company numerous national and regional awards, including “Best Places to Work in Virginia” from Virginia Business, “Top Corporate Philanthropists” from the Washington Business Journal, and “Best Accounting Firm to Work For” from Accounting Today.

Kearney also formed an annual charity golf tournament for the Warrior Canine Connection, an organization that helps recovering service members reconnect with life after combat by facilitating a bond between veterans and service dogs.

Persico is currently the 12th president of Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she has served for eight years. Persico’s celebrated career includes serving as the executive vice president for Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic non-profit health care delivery services in the United States, as well as serving on the board of African Sisters Education Collaborative, which supports women across 10 African countries who are pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees. 

Persico’s legacy at Marywood includes a restructuring effort that doubled enrollment in several programs and established the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as a comprehensive multi-year fundraising campaign that has secured $27 million to date.

Leary is retiring after 50 years of service at LCCC, including 17 years as the institution’s longest-serving president. His legacy includes expanding LCCC centers into Pittston, Scranton, and Watsontown, as well as increasing student scholarship funding by 71 percent.

In February 2023, LCCC under Leary launched the Restart Program, which offers former students who were unable to finish their degree a second chance to complete their studies while having their previous LCCC debt waived. The program is tailored to students enduring financial and personal struggles, which became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic.