GREENVILLE, PA – The Thiel College Board of Trustees announced today that Dr. Robert Olson ’60 has been named president of the college, retroactive to his interim appointment in March 2007. Olson will be recognized in the records and history of Thiel College as its 18th president.
“Bob Olson has devoted decades to Thiel College and the Board of Trustees felt that recognition as president was more than warranted by his outstanding service, dedication and commitment,” says Dr. M. Roy Strausbaugh, chair of Thiel’s board.
Olson has served as interim president for the past 20 months, a longer period than originally anticipated. During his tenure as interim president, Olson has created an environment that has allowed the college to more effectively carry out its mission, including fostering collegiality among the members of the college community and establishing a trusted system of shared governance on campus, says Strausbaugh.
After graduating summa cum laude in 1960, Olson earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in history from The Pennsylvania State University in 1962 and 1969, respectively, with a concentration in U.S. diplomatic history. Olson returned to his alma mater in 1965 as an assistant professor of history and rose through the associate and professor ranks teaching a variety of U.S. history courses with a special interest in the history of Native Americans. In 1999, Olson was appointed to the position of vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college after having served as interim vice president and dean since 1998.
Beyond campus, Olson is active within the community. He served as president of the Reynolds School Board from 1981 to 1989, is a member of the Mercer County Historical Society Board of Directors and belongs to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville.
Olson, a resident of Mercer, and his late wife, Margaret—who was for many years the college’s bookstore manager and purchasing agent— are the parents of a son, Erik.
A search is currently underway for the 19th president of Thiel College. A new president is expected to take office in July 2009.