The Need

America needs leaders. Desperately.

It needs leaders who understand the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of life, and role of faith in shaping the social order.

It also needs leaders who understand both natural law and divine law, who have been schooled in the virtues, and formed in the truth.

And it needs leaders with practical competence who are capable of making the hard choices, doing the right thing, and sacrificing themselves for the good of others and the nation.

It doesn’t, however, just need those leaders in Washington. It needs them everywhere, in every walk of life, transforming both Church and culture as doctors and lawyers, journalists and corporate executives, artists and academics. That is the unique vocation of the laity: to transform the social order from within, to be salt and light and leaven in the world.

The Mission

Through the Center for Leadership, Franciscan University of Steubenville is committed to raising up a new generation of Catholic leaders who can do just that, recognizing as its former president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, once asked, “If Franciscan University doesn’t produce leaders for tomorrow, who will?”

Founded in 2011, the center seeks to equip a select group of Franciscan undergraduate students for the unique challenges of leadership in the 21st century.

Drawing from a broad cross-section of academic majors, the program offers formation in the principles of effective leadership, the virtues, Catholic social teaching, the philosophy of the human person, and America’s founding principles. It also offers practical training in the skills necessary for exercising life-long Christian leadership in the world.

The Program

The Center for Leadership does that through a combination of study, mentoring relationships, and real world experience.

Beginning their freshman year, students come together weekly for guided discussions based on texts critical to understanding and living the lay vocation.

They also are required to step out of the classroom and exercise leadership on campus through becoming involved in at least one co-curricular activity of their choosing (student clubs, household life, campus ministry, missions, etc.).

Throughout their four years in the program, students participate in special events, such as a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with national leaders and exclusive dinners with distinguished speakers who come to campus to address the University community.

They also work closely with their academic advisor and Center for Leadership staff to chart out their studies and co-curricular activities in the way that best serves their academic and career goals.

During their junior and senior years, they’ll be connected with distinguished Franciscan friends and alumni already exercising leadership in the Church and culture. Through these mentoring relationships, students will receive guidance, insight, and possible opportunities for internships in their field of interest.

The flexible schedule allows students to study abroad for a semester at the University’s campus in Gaming, Austria.

Students participating in the four-year program receive a leadership scholarship* each year to help offset the cost of their tuition and expenses.

*Except those already receiving full-tuition scholarships or benefits.


Leadership Mass
An annual Mass offered for the initiation of the students in the Center for Leadership.

Student Leadership Conferences

The annual Student Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for students from across campus to gather to learn, reflect and pray together as young leaders. The conference equips students to meet the challenges of leading their peers and others, helping them grow as effective Christian leaders. Conference speakers have included theologian and author Fr. Peter Ryan, S.J.; Stephen Giordano of Day One Group; Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn; Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR; and Mark Hart, executive director of LifeTeen.

Admission by Invitation Only

During their senior year in high school, a select group of students are invited to participate in the program for the fall semester of their freshman year. Invitees are selected based upon their high school achievements and leadership potential. Similar criteria are also used to evaluate those freshmen who apply for the program’s spring section.

Students meeting the program’s requirements and standards are welcome to participate throughout their time at Franciscan.

Center for Leadership Staff
David Schmiesing
David Schmiesing

Schmiesing was appointed as vice president of Student Life in September 2006. He graduated summa cum laude from Franciscan University in 1992 with a BA in history and a minor in mathematics. That same year he earned an Ohio secondary teaching certificate. In 1999, he completed an MS in education at Franciscan University.

Read More

He has served Franciscan University in a variety of leadership positions, most notably as associate director of Conferences (1997), director of Business Services (1998-2002), and associate dean of Student Development (2002-2006). He has a long history of involvement with students, overseeing student leadership development and other programs that promote involvement in campus life and social and spiritual development. Mr. Schmiesing also serves as the director of the Franciscan University Center for Leadership.

Ronald J. McNamara
Ron McNamara

McNamara serves as coordinator of Student Leadership Development at Franciscan University of Steubenville, drawing on his extensive public policy and diplomatic experience in Washington, D.C., Vienna, Austria, and throughout Eastern Europe. A graduate of The George Washington University, with a BA in political science, Mr. McNamara held numerous leadership and supervisory positions during his career in public service on Capitol Hill, which spanned over three decades.

Josh Miller
Josh Miller

Joshua’s life work is about helping persons identify how God has uniquely designed and called them so that they can flourish and help sanctify the world.

This mission is central to his role as husband, father, friend and in his professional career in his roles as coach, trainer, speaker and writer.

Read More

Much of Joshua’s work centers on drawing out the achievement stories of other people and helping them see the unique patterns of created design in them.

His long standing desire to understand and help people develop their unique giftedness led to an MA & Ph.D. in Philosophy of the Human Person. He continues to effectively integrate learning from this study into his coaching and consulting practices.

He is a co-developer of MCORE, the first on-line assessment that blends a person’s own achievement stories with established psychometric constructs. For the last 20 years he has applied his expertise in a variety of applications, including executive search, organizational development, and talent management.

Joshua also helped build The Center for Leadership at Franciscan University of Steubenville where he currently serves as Coordinator for the First Year Program and the Vocation Coach Program.

In recent years Joshua has become increasingly concerned that the Church’s rich teaching personal vocation has been neglected.

As a response to this concern, Joshua co-founded Inscape in 2016 with Luke Burgis, which is devoted to fostering a culture of personal vocation in the Church and for the renewal of Culture.
He is the co-author with Luke Burgis of Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person.

Joshua and his wife Brooke of 20 years are joyfully Catholic and have six dear children.

Discovering Your Personal Vocation
Interning with the Congressman
A Reception to Remember