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Foundation, legislators and employees celebrate launch of Thiel College’s sesquicentennial


GREENVILLE, Pa.—The president of the Pittsburgh-based charitable trust The Dietrich Foundation and two members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly were among the more than 200 alumni, staff, students, and friends of Thiel College on hand Thursday as the College launched its sesquicentennial celebration at Founders’ Day.

Senator Michele Brooks, of Greenville, and Representative Mark Longietti, of Hermitage, presented Thiel College a citation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania House of Representatives recognizing the College’s 150th anniversary.

Thiel College President Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D., bestowed the Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award to The Dietrich Foundation. Edward Grefenstette, president of The Dietrich Foundation, accepted the award.

“The Dietrich Foundation is an important historic partner and I can think of no more appropriate honoree to kick off our sesquicentennial celebration,” VanAken said.

VanAken said The Dietrich Foundation is an “active and engaged partner, as together we strive to actualize the vision of the Dietrich Honors Institute and support student success and achievement.”

The Dietrich Foundation’s $25 million gift to Thiel College in 2011 remains the largest in the College’s history. Part of that gift established The Kenneth ’31 and Marianna Brown ’32 Dietrich Honors Institute (DHI). The DHI was named in honor of Dietrich’s parents, who were Thiel College alumni. William “Bill” S. Dietrich II was named after his grandfather, who was an executive with Greenville Steel Car from 1922-1945. Greenville Steel Car manufactured rail cars in Greenville and was an important part of the region’s economy, creating thousands of jobs in the region.

Grefenstette said The Dietrich Foundation’s commitment to higher education is a continuation of the principles of Bill Dietrich, who believed that higher education was a “positive multiplier.”

Thiel College has a supportive and nurturing learning environment that allows students “to take the risks to achieve great things,” Grefenstette said.

The Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award is given annually to individuals who demonstrate exemplary character, continuity of leadership, and long-term service to Greenville and the surrounding community. The recipients must show a commitment to the common good above private interests. The award is named after Louis and Barbara Thiel, whose generosity made possible the founding of Thiel College in 1866. As part of the Founders’ Day tradition, five faculty members and 10 staff members were recognized for their hard work and dedication to the College. More information on the staff honorees can be found in the pre-event Founders' Day press release.

About The Dietrich Foundation

The Dietrich Foundation is a Pennsylvania charitable trust. It was created through the vision and generosity of William “Bill” S. Dietrich II, who passed away in October 2011. The primary mission of The Dietrich Foundation is to benefit higher education, principally in the greater Pittsburgh area, by providing ongoing and increasing financial support to six educational institutions that were important to him. The Foundation also provides financial support to nine other charitable beneficiaries in Western Pennsylvania, including funds for both Greenville and Conneaut Lake communities, for which Dietrich felt great fondness.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is an independent college founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. The College is also home to a Master of Science in speech-language pathology, a Leadership Master of Business Administration and a Management Master of Business Administration. Both master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The speech-language pathology program also has an accelerated 15-month graduate-level program. The M.B.A. program also has a 12-month post-graduate program. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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