Front row from left: Liz Stuyvesant, Liz Young, L.John Kuder, Dr. David Buck and Connie Reinhart; second row from left: Susan Swartzbeck, Joyce Carr, Joe Langdon, John Gibson, Dr. James Shaffer and Dr. Derek Nelson.
GREENVILLE, PA – Today, Thiel College paid tribute to 10 faculty and staff members and Luther John Kuder ’59 at the college’s annual Founders’ Day convocation in the Lutheran Heritage Room of the Howard Miller Student Center.
President Robert C. Olson ’60 presented the A. Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award to Kuder, retired president of L.J. Kuder Inc., a Greenville commercial and personal insurance company.
Kuder and his wife, Diann, have been long-time supporters of the local community, including Thiel College, for many years. His past community activities include the Greenville Regional Hospital Board of Trustees, the board of St. Paul Homes, president and annual fund chair of the Greenville United Way, the Greenville Recreation Board, president of the Babe Ruth League, director of the Greenville Historical Society and chair of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. For many years, Kuder has been very active with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville-Reynolds Development Corp. and served on the Industrial Day/Business & Industry Day committee.
The award is presented annually to community members who demonstrate exemplary character, continuity of leadership, and long-term service to Greenville and its environs. The recipients must demonstrate a commitment to the common good above private interests.
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 was Dr. James Shaffer, professor of psychology. Shaffer, of Greenville, is a dedicated professor with 39 years of service to Thiel College.
Shaffer joined the faculty as an assistant psychology professor in 1970, became an associate professor in 1975 and was promoted to full professor in 1981. He has been very active on campus—chair of the psychology department from 1991 to 2003; service on many College committees, including Faculty Council; chair of the faculty; coordinator of the gerontology minor program; founder and faculty adviser of Psi Chi honorary; and much more. He also was a driving force behind the creation of Joining Generations, a partnership between Thiel and St. Paul Homes that has provided many opportunities for growth and learning for Thiel’s students.
He is a member of the American Psychologist Association and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. He is a past president of the Greenville Mental Health Association and past board member of the Mental Health Association of Mercer County. He is an active member of the Greenville Lions Club and his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran in Greenville.
Shaffer earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology, all at West Virginia University. He and his wife, Lucy, reside in the Cottage Colony at St. Paul Homes. Shaffer plans to retire at the end of the spring 2009 semester.
Other faculty members earning recognition were:
- Dr. David Buck, associate professor of history, received the Distinguished Service Award. A native of Grove City and a resident of Sharon, he holds a doctorate from West Virginia University.
- Connie Reinhart, associate professor of education, received the Distinguished Teacher Award. A native of Greenville, Reinhart holds a master’s of education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and public school administration from the University of Alaska. She resides in Jamestown.
- Dr. Derek Nelson, assistant professor of religion, received the Distinguished Scholar Award. A native of Cannon Falls, Minn., and a resident of Greenville, Nelson holds a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union and a Master of Divinity from Yale University.
- John M. Gibson, adjunct professor of chemistry, received the Distinguished Adjunct Award. A Greenville resident, Gibson holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and has more than 30 years of experience in the petroleum refining industry.
Five staff awards were also presented during the ceremony. Receiving honors were:
- Elizabeth Young ’96, Transfer, Pa., administrative assistant in the Office of Admissions, received the Distinguished Innovator Award.
- Joyce DeFrancesco Carr, Masury, Ohio, director of public relations, received the Distinguished Newcomer Award.
- Joe Langdon, Greenville, HVAC technician, received the Distinguished Extra Effort Award.
- Susan Swartzbeck, Greenville, director of human resources, received the Distinguished Outreach Award.
- Elizabeth Stuyvesant, Adamsville, student loan specialist, received the Distinguished Service Staff Award.