Kozak says farewell to lectures


Gannon University political science professor David Kozak, Ph. D., gave his 14th and final Presidential election analysis on Nov. 2 before retiring in December, capping a long and distinguished career in the political science field.
Before he began lecturing on elections, Kozak was a senior undergraduate at Gannon in the ‘60s. He was offered a fellowship at Kent State, but on the day that he graduated from Gannon, he received a draft notice.
The only way he was going to be able to keep his fellowship and not be shipped off to Vietnam was to join the Air Force ROTC program at Kent State as a graduate student, so that’s what he did.
“The first three years I was the man at the button,” Kozak said. “I sat at the switch with a key around my neck and another officer, and if we were attacked I was the guy that used to fire off the missiles.
“It was not what I expected but I had a marvelous career in the Air Force.”
Kozak’s career in political lecturing began during his time teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy in the 1970s.
“I was at the Air Force Academy when somebody gave me the opportunity to start talking about results of an election,” Kozak said. “They asked me to do it at the Officer Club.”
Not too long after that, his good friend Thomas Cronan, Ph. D., at Colorado College encouraged Kozak to continue giving lectures, telling him that it popularized what they did as a discipline. Soon, Kozak was not only giving lectures at the collegiate level but also for the federal government.
One of the most memorable opportunities Kozak said he came across in his career was a lecture he gave at the White House around 1995 during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“It was a magnificent opportunity,” Kozak said. “I wasn’t able to meet the president, but they took my wife and I through all the back corners of the White House and we thought to ourselves, ‘Not too bad for two kids from Gannon.’
“It was unbelievable”
Kozak was also asked by the director of the Secret Service to give a lecture to his staff on more than one occasion.

“They’d have me come in just as the election started and ask me to talk to the Secret Service about what the political climate was like,” Kozak said. “And then for years, once a month I’d go down to Charlottesville, Va., to the Federal Executive Institute.”
Between giving lectures for the federal government, the Chautauqua Institution and Gannon, Kozak said that it’s been almost like a business for him, and that he’s enjoyed it immensely.
Kozak has also had the opportunity to co-teach a course with the former governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge.
“How could you get any better than teaching with the governor of the state?” asked Kozak. “Students paid attention when he talked because he was in charge of the state cops, and theoretically he could’ve had them arrested, so nobody fell asleep.”
As for where this election ranks among the 14 he has analyzed throughout his career, Kozak said it was the most unnatural and surely the ugliest.
“This election has made people either retire or drink,” Kozak said “In my case, it’s done both.”
Like he did in his analysis on Nov. 2, Kozak pointed out how unusual the candidates were this election. Not only was a former First Lady involved, but a man whose rise to fame through business and reality television had made him a household name before ever throwing his hat in the ring. Support for those who did not win the candidacy, particularly Bernie Sanders, who Kozak said had a big impact on this election, also showed where the younger generation stands on American politics today.
“There’s an uprising going on now,” Kozak said “Without shots being fired, it’s an American revolution.”
Kozak did, however, offer a bit of hope. “If we survived the Civil War, we can survive this election.”
Kozak also emphasized the importance his marriage has had in his life and career. Kozak met his wife when she was a part of the first female class at Gannon. As far as they know, they are the first Gannon students to have married, and will be celebrating 50 years together this summer.
“That’s the thing that’s touched my life I think the most,” Kozak said. “I sit here and once in a while I just think, ‘God, I’m a blessed guy.’”
Kozak is currently completing the final political science class that he will be teaching. After 44 years of teaching and lecturing, Kozak’s plans for retirement are simple.
“I’m becoming a professional grandfather,” Kozak said. “I graduated in 1966 from Gannon and never could have foreseen the wonderful things that came my way.”


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