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President Troy D. VanAken announces departure


President Troy D. VanAken announces departure

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D., the 19th President of Thiel College, announced he has accepted the presidency of a liberal arts college that will announce his selection today and consequently submitted his resignation to the Thiel College Board of Trustees, effective August 2016.

“I am proud of all of the achievements we have reached together as an institution,” VanAken said. “This has been the best experience of my career, but also know this is the right time for the next step in my professional life.”

During an announcement to the campus community, President VanAken had much to reflect on.

VanAken added, “While this was a difficult decision, the time feels right. Exceeding the $60 million Thiel 2016 Campaign goal and launching a renewed strategic planning process, coupled with the positive changes everyone helped to accomplish these past seven years, position Thiel to attract strong candidates to take the College to the next level.”

VanAken has served as the College’s president since July 2009. Under his leadership, Thiel celebrated many significant milestones. The endowment grew from $19 million to $68 million over the course of VanAken’s tenure. The largest gift in the history of the College, $25 million from The Dietrich Foundation, was secured in 2011. Just this month, the College exceeded the Thiel 2016 Campaign target 10 months early, raising more than $61 million for the largest fundraising campaign in the College’s history.

Other highlights of VanAken’s tenure include:

  • More than $30 million spent on physical plant improvements, including construction of the LEED-certified James Pedas Communication Center
  • Development and implementation of the Thiel 2016 Strategic Plan and a revised academic core curriculum
  • Addition of a department, major, four minors and six new varsity sports

“Dr. VanAken has done exemplary work for Thiel College,” said Board Chair Barry Stamm, M.D. ’70. “Under his leadership, the College achieved new heights and his fiscal acumen led to budget surpluses for the past five years. This was accomplished while adding new academic and athletic initiatives, and strengthening the curriculum. His continued commitment will be invaluable as we begin the search for the College’s 20th president.”

VanAken has started conversations with the Board of Trustees regarding his transition this summer.

About President Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D.

Before arriving at Thiel College, VanAken was the executive vice president at Albion College in Albion, Mich. Prior to being named executive vice president, VanAken served in a number of other leadership roles at Albion. During this time, he participated in Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management (2005) and was awarded an American Council on Education Fellowship at San Jose State University (2002).

His career in higher education began in 1994 when he was appointed assistant professor of Mathematics at the University of Evansville, and where he was later selected as assistant vice president for instructional technology. He played a leadership role in securing private funding to develop a Center for Teaching Excellence, and obtaining a National Science Foundation grant to develop an interdisciplinary math and science course. VanAken holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Bowling Green State University.

VanAken has authored refereed articles in mathematics and given presentations in the fields of mathematics, technology, athletics, and higher education. In addition to experience as a high school football and track coach, VanAken has assisted both the NCAA and collegiate athletic conferences through committee service. He remains active in economic and community development, and has started three successful technology-related companies.

A native of Hillsdale, Mich., VanAken and his wife, Annette, have two children, Trey and Gabriella.

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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