First Year Experience expert to offer
Thiel commencement address on May 7
For immediate release April 26, 2006
PA – Founder and executive director of
The Policy Center on the First Year of College, John
N. Gardner will serve as the keynote speaker at Thiel College’s spring commencement
at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7.
Gardner and two alumni, the Rev.
Martin M. Roth ’66, pastor of
the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville, and William
Slater II ’80,
president and owner of William Slater & Sons Inc. funeral homes,
will be awarded honorary degrees during the ceremony.
Best known as the initiator of the international
reform movement in higher education to what he has coined “The Freshman Year Experience,” Gardner
will provide the address “Giving Praise, Giving Thanks, Giving
Under Gardner’s leadership, The Policy
Center on the First Year of College has as its basic mission the improvement
of the first college year through enhanced learning outcomes and the
success of first-year students. A particular focus of the Policy Center
is the development and dissemination of a range of first-year assessment
procedures and tools that can be used to strengthen or confirm practices
in the curriculum, the co-curriculum, and institutional policy. In
addition to improving practice, this process will contribute to the
body of research on best practices in first-year programs.
The Center was initiated in October 1999 with
a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, and is hosted on the campus
of Brevard College in North Carolina. The work of the Policy Center
is currently made possible by the generous support of two primary
benefactors, The Atlantic Philanthropies and Lumina Foundation for
Education, and is an extension of the work of Gardner and his colleagues
at the University of South Carolina’s
National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience
and Students in Transition. The two entities work cooperatively on
issues of central concern for the success of first-year college students.
Gardner will be awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree during
Roth, pastor of Holy Trinity since 1986, is
a 1966 alumnus of Thiel College. He earned master of divinity and
master of sacred theology degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary
in Philadelphia. He is the co-founder of the concert series Friends
of Music at Holy Trinity. Active in the community, he is a member
of the Thiel College Board of Trustees and its Instruction Committee,
the UPMC Horizon Board and its Joint Commission, Medical Ethics and
Hospital Chaplaincy Advisory committees. He is co-founder of the Community
Medical Ethics Project and is a founding member of Greenville’s
Good Shepherd Center.
Roth will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
Slater, whose company operates eight funeral homes in the Pittsburgh
area, is a 1980 alumnus of Thiel and a graduate of the Pittsburgh Institute
of Mortuary Science. He is active in community affairs and a member
of several civic organizations, including the Greentree Rotary Club
to which he has served as president. An active Mason, Slater is also
noted as the youngest grand master in 100 years to serve the Grand Lodge
of Pennsylvania. He became a 33rd degree Mason in 2002.
Slater will receive an honorary doctor of humanities degree.