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Trustee Rod Wilt ’86 named leader of Mercer County economic development agency


Trustee Rod Wilt ’86 named leader of Mercer County economic development agency

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Trustee Rod Wilt ’86 has been named the executive director of the Penn Northwest Development Corporation and begins in the role Sept. 28.

Wilt is a 1986 graduate of Thiel College and the treasurer for the College’s Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Jill (Gardner) ’85, who is a 1985 graduate of the College, created the first endowed coaching chair in the 60-plus year history of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference when they endowed the wrestling coach position at Thiel in 2015.

“Rod and his family have a long-standing commitment to the College, the Greenville community, Mercer County and the region at large,” Thiel College President Susan Traverso, Ph.D. said. “This is great news for the continued economic development of the area. With his background in state government, family connections and extensive professional network, Rod will be an asset for Penn Northwest and the greater region.”

The Penn Northwest Development Corporation is Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.

“The board is very excited about having Rod join Penn Northwest. He has a demonstrated ability to build long-lasting relationships and execute strategies to complete collaborative development projects and attract capital investments that will be extremely helpful in driving the corporation forward,” said Board Chairman John Thigpen ’86 said.

Wilt is a familiar face in Mercer County. From 1996-2006, he served the 17th legislative district as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. During his 34-year professional career, Wilt held positions at First National Bank, the Hudson Group and Winner International in our region. He has spent more than a decade in real estate and land development ventures. From 2015 to 2019, Wilt operated the Keystone Energy Forum, a statewide outreach and education program focused on mission-critical state and federal oil and gas legislative initiatives.

“I feel confident that I can help foster the needed relationships and partnerships to lead Penn Northwest Development Corporation, and the business community we serve, forward toward greater prosperity,” Wilt said. “Mercer County has excellent assets and a workforce that is attractive for corporate expansion. I’m looking forward to making an impact!”

A search committee was formed in June and vetted more than 60 applicants for the job.

Wilt was inducted into the Thiel College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. Wilt compiled a three-year wrestling record of 75-16, including consecutive 31-3 records his junior and senior seasons. Wrestling at 167 pounds, he was a three-time NCAA national qualifier and twice earned All-American status.

As a junior, Wilt set a then Thiel-record with 25 consecutive wins. After winning his first Presidents’ Athletic Conference title, he became an All-American by placing second at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.

In 1986, he was selected the PAC Most Valuable Wrestler at the conference championships while again winning the 167-pound weight class. He won the NCAA Regional title and earned All-American status for the second time by placing third at the national championships in 1986, the same year that he earned Academic All-American status.

Rod and Jill met at Thiel and have remained active with their alma mater throughout their professional careers. Jill Wilt previously served as Thiel College Alumni Director and was a past member of the Alumni Board of Directors.

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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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