Thiel honors Thiel faculty,
staff at Founders’ Day
For immediate release January 30, 2006
GREENVILLE, PA –Thiel
College will pay tribute to 10 faculty and staff members and an area
business owner at its annual Founders’ Day ceremony at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 2, in the Lutheran Heritage Room of
the Howard Miller Student Center, announced Thiel President
and CEO Dr. Lance A. Masters.
The A. Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished
Service Award will be presented to Paul E. O’Brien, president
of Rien Construction Company.
The A. Louis and Barbara Thiel Award is presented to those who demonstrate
exemplary character, continuity of leadership, and long-term service
to Greenville and its environs. The recipients must have demonstrated
a commitment to the common good above private interests.
In 1981 after experiencing the tragic death
of their children, Jill, Paul Jr., and Stephanie and Tina’s mother, Lola Piccirilli, Paul
O’Brien and his wife, Tina, sought to turn their personal tragedy
into a victory for the community. With the help of
a few friends, they established a community foundation for this region.
The O’Brien Children Memorial Fund became the first charitable
fund established within this new community foundation, known today as
the Shenango Valley Foundation. O’Brien has been a leader and encourager
to many others in the Shenango and Mahoning valleys
to create funds within the foundation.
Each year O’Brien is one of the driving forces behind two events
that provide additional gifts to the foundation. The O’Brien Children
Memorial Fund’s annual lobster clambake each autumn rallies support
from Ohio and Pennsylvania to increase the funds available.
Each spring a Texas-style barbecue benefits the Strimbu Memorial Fund
and serves as a venue for the awarding of thousands of dollars in scholarships
to area students.
Because of Paul O’Brien’s leadership
and his ability to motivate others to join him in benefiting the communities
of the Shenango and Mahoning valleys, more than $11 million in grants
have been distributed within the local community. The foundation with
240 funds has spread the message that everyone can be a philanthropist.
O’Brien has been active within Mercer County for many years. Currently
he is involved with the Greenville and Shenango Valley chambers of commerce;
director of Shenango Valley Foundation and the O’Brien Children
Memorial Fund; vice president of Strimbu Memorial Fund and the Youngstown
Air Force Base Community Council; president of UPMC/Horizon Hospital
Foundation; executive board member of the Five County Builder’s
Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania;
executive board member of the Shenango Valley Industrial Development
Corporation (SVIDC); board member and founding member of Penn-Northwest
Development Corporation; and board member of Subscribers Encouraging
Economic Development Inc.
The award is named after A. Louis and Barbara Thiel, whose generosity
made possible the founding of Thiel College in 1866. The Thiels dedicated
themselves to the welfare of others. The German couple immigrated to
western Pennsylvania in the 1840s, and as their work was blessed with
success, they faithfully served family, community and church.
Receiving the prestigious Professor of the Year
Award will be Dr. Jay A. Ward, professor of English. Ward, in his 28th
year at Thiel, received the same honor in 2000, and the Distinguished
Scholar Award in 2003. Ward’s additional professional honors include the National Council
of Teachers of English Superior Achievement Award, the Lilly Endowment
Scholarship, Lutheran Department of Higher Education sabbatical grant,
Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the Humanities,
Who’s Who in America and three times by student nominations was
named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Ward, who joined the Thiel faculty in 1978 as
an assistant professor of English and communication, earned his bachelor’s degree from
Butler University, his master’s from Indiana Central University
and his doctor of philosophy degree from Ball State
University. He taught at Warren Central High School in Indiana and at
Ball State University before coming to Thiel. He resides in Sharon.
Other faculty members earning recognition are:
• Sean P. McConnor, professor of art/curator
of art, will receive the Distinguished Scholar Award. He resides in
• Dr. Cynthia L. Sutton, professor of sociology, will receive the
Distinguished Service Award. She resides in Greenville.
• Dr. Beth Parkinson, professor of psychology, will receive the
Distinguished Teaching Award. She resides in Greenville.
• Jennifer J. Curry ’91, professor of mathematics and computer
science, will receive the Distinguished Adjunct Faculty
Award. She resides in Greenville.
Five staff awards will also be presented during the ceremony. Receiving
honors will be:
• John P. Marzka, associate head football coach, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks,
who will receive the Distinguished Innovator Award.
Marzka resides in Greenville.
• Heather M. Achenbach ’01, director of student activities
and Greek life, will receive the Distinguished Newcomer
Award. She resides in Greenville.
• Kevin M. Fenstermacher, sports information director and assistant
athletic director, who will receive the Distinguished
Extra Effort Award. He resides in Mercer.
• Roberta J. Leonard, director of corporate and foundation support
and government relations, will receive the Distinguished
Outreach Award. She resides in Greenville.
• Joyce Minor, director of the Langenheim Memorial Library, will
receive the Distinguished Service Staff Award. She
resides in Fowler, Ohio.
For more information on Founders’ Day, please
contact Sherrie Greenlee-Ogello, coordinator of special
events, at (724) 589-2240.