Accomplished SUNY Oswego alumni to address graduates at December Commencement


December 2, 2021

Two accomplished alumni will offer words of inspiration to the SUNY Oswego graduates at the two Commencement ceremonies, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The 9:30 a.m. ceremony celebrating the Class of 2020 will feature 2007 graduate Jeff Knauss, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and co-founder of the award-winning Digital Hyve agency. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature 1981 graduate Mark Baum, chief collaboration and commercial officer for the Food Marketing Institute - The Food Industry Association. 

Knauss and Baum also will earn honorary doctorate degrees in humane letters from SUNY for their service to the institution, the business world and society in general.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Knauss’ entrepreneurial journey started by co-founding Digital Hyve, a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in Syracuse and Rochester with 56 full-time employees. Digital Hyve was named the 52nd-fastest private growing company in the U.S by Inc. Magazine in their annual Inc. 5,000 edition and also named the fifth-fastest growing Marketing and Advertising Company in the nation. 

Since 2018, Digital Hyve has been listed on the Inc. 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States four years in a row. Digital Hyve has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Adweek, Fortune Magazine, Success Stories, Statista and multiple television news networks. 

In 2021, Knauss sold Digital Hyve to a large, independently owned ad agency, Butler Till, which resulted in their 56 employees becoming employee-owners of the business through an employee stock ownership plan. This has been Knauss’ proudest professional moment as it honored the employees that helped build Digital Hyve. 

Knauss is an investor in seven other businesses through his company HML Holdings. Also, after selling Digital Hyve, he began the process of starting four new businesses partnering with serial entrepreneur and major philanthropist Adam Weitsman. 

Knauss graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2007 with a bachelor’s in public relations with a concentration in marketing. He spent eight years in broadcast television prior to starting Digital Hyve. 

Currently, Knauss is very engaged in his community, with seats on six boards of directors including the Loretto Foundation, Byrne Dairy, United Way of CNY, CenterState CEO, Onondaga Community College Foundation and SUNY Oswego Foundation.

Food industry leader

In his leadership role, Baum works on behalf of FMI to engage retailer, manufacturer, supplier and service provider C-Suite executives to further trading partner collaboration, leading to operational improvements and growth opportunities across all segments of the food retail supply chain.

Baum is known for his intricate knowledge of almost every aspect of the food, beverage, consumer packaged goods and retail industry. He is also one of the foremost experts in the design, management and execution of strategic and commercial sales, marketing and merchandising models across consumer-facing industries.

Additionally, Baum is a managing partner of MARCAT Group, LLC, an advisory firm specializing in the active outdoors marketplace. Prior to that, he was a partner and led the CPG/Retail Practice at Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, now owned by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. 

Earlier, he was executive vice president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Baum previously was president and CEO of the Association of Sales and Marketing Companies (ASMC), joining GMA in 2001 after leading the merger with ASMC.  

Baum serves as a director on the Oswego College Foundation, Inc., and chair of its Development Committee. Baum chaired the With Passion and Purpose campaign, the second capital campaign for Oswego. He and his wife Cathy established two scholarship funds plus funds in support of Possibility Scholarship, a challenge grant and the Marano Campus Center. The first scholarship was established in 2005 in memory of Michael O’Brien ’81 who died on September 11, 2001; the second was established in 2019 in honor of their fathers, Robert Baum and Joseph Becker.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from Oswego, Baum earned a master’s degree in marketing from Marymount University.

SUNY Oswego’s Commencement ceremonies will take place in person, with COVID protocols in place, in the Deborah F. Stanley Arena and Convocation Hall in the Marano Campus Center. For more information, visit