President Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D.
Troy D. VanAken became the 19th president and professor of mathematics at Thiel College in 2009. He quickly became an active and involved member of the Thiel campus community and is often seen in the crowds at student athletic, arts and co-curricular events, developing new student and alumni events (such as Winter Weekend), or just having lunch with students in the dining hall. Since taking leadership at Thiel, the College has actively launched many new programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing the student experience at the College, such as the Thiel Commitment, the Kenneth and Marianna Brown Dietrich Honors Institute, upgraded campus facilities, new academic major and minor programs, five new varsity sports, a marching band, and many others.
Dr. VanAken holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Bowling Green State University. A native of Michigan, 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. In 1999, Albion College named Dr. VanAken as vice president for information technology. After being awarded an American Council on Education Fellowship and working at San Jose State University in 2002-2003, Dr. VanAken returned to Albion College with expanded responsibilities as athletic director and executive assistant to the president, and eventually vice president for business and finance. Dr. VanAken participated in Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management in 2005 and was named Albion’s executive vice president in 2006.
Dr. VanAken has authored refereed articles in mathematics and given presentations in the fields of mathematics, technology, athletics, and higher education. Throughout his career, Dr. VanAken’s emphasis has been on ensuring that students are provided an experience that prepares them for the world that waits after graduation. Thus, he has remained an academic and student champion as his management responsibilities have expanded to include athletics, business, finance, fundraising, facilities and technology. He played a leadership role at the University of Evansville 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. Dr. VanAken was a member of the Albion College Campaign Leadership Committee and served as acting head of the Institutional Advancement division in 2007.
In addition to experience as a high school football and track coach, Dr. 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. In the past, Dr. VanAken has served as a facilities, technology and strategic planning consultant in addition to being an expert witness in a federal software licensing case.
Dr. VanAken and his wife, Annette, have two children, Trey and Gabriella.