THIEL COLLEGE TO RECEIVE LARGEST GIFT IN ITS HISTORY
$25 Million Fund from Philanthropist and businessman William S. Dietrich II will honor his parents who met at Thiel College
Nov. 3, 2011
GREENVILLE, PA—Thiel College announced today that businessman, scholar, philanthropist and proud northwest Pennsylvania native William S. Dietrich II has bequeathed a $25 million fund to the institution. Dietrich’s gift is the largest made to the college in its 145-year history and became operational upon his passing on Oct. 6.
“A gift of this magnitude has the potential to fundamentally change Thiel College,” said Dr. Troy VanAken, Thiel College president, while announcing the fund. “Bill’s generosity to Thiel, as well as the community we call home, is overwhelming. Each time we met over the last several years, I left impressed with Bill’s passion, focus and ability to understand investments in an increasingly global economy. The faith and trust he has put in Thiel College with this investment is humbling and will enhance our ability to serve our mission of academic excellence, ethical leadership, diversity and service to the world. With today’s announcement, we begin a new phase in the history of Thiel College.”
Dietrich’s connection to Thiel College began in the 1920s when his parents, Kenneth Dietrich and Marianna Brown, met as students on Thiel’s campus. Ken was a business major and Marianna studied English as a humanities major. Shortly after graduation, they married in 1933, began their life together in Pittsburgh and had two children, William and Linda. The Dietrichs returned to the area in 1947 to run a small hotel in Conneaut Lake, Pa. Soon after, Ken Dietrich started a small lumber business near Blairsville, Pa., which would grow to become Dietrich Industries Inc. and would later flourish under his son’s direction. Ken stayed connected to Thiel, serving on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1984. Bill Dietrich was honored by Thiel College in 1996 for his leadership of Dietrich Industries with the Haller Enterprise Institute’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is given annually by the college to a business owner who has demonstrated entrepreneurial leadership.
The first public, campus-wide celebration of his gift will occur on Feb. 11, 2012, during Thiel’s inaugural Winter Weekend, a new all-campus event. At that time, an announcement of how the college plans to use the fund will be made.
The source of the fund that will benefit Thiel is the Dietrich Charitable Trusts, which are charitable remainder trusts created by Dietrich that own assets primarily generated by the 1996 sale of Dietrich Industries, which were grown significantly through a global investment portfolio. Upon his passing, the trusts will fund a new charitable organization, The Dietrich Foundation, which will administer the funds benefiting Thiel College.
"Bill spoke often and with great pride about how important this gift would be to Thiel College, an institution that meant so much to his family,” said Edward J. Grefenstette, the chief investment officer of the Dietrich Charitable Trusts. “He was highly confident that the combination of these resources and President VanAken’s leadership would mean that Thiel’s greatest days were in front of it.”
About William S. Dietrich II
After graduating from Princeton University in 1960, Dietrich served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves before joining Dietrich Industries, Inc., the company founded by his father, and transforming it from a small steel warehouse and distribution business to the nation’s largest manufacturer of light metal framing for the construction industry. In 1996, Worthington Industries bought the company and asked Dietrich to remain as director, which he did until his retirement.
He is the author of “In the Shadow of the Rising Sun: The Political Roots of an American Economic Decline” and “Eminent Pittsburghers: Profiles of the City’s Founding Industrialists,” a collection of his essays which was released this year. He also was a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine.
Dietrich was well known for his commitment to the betterment of the Pittsburgh region. He served on the boards of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Chatham University, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Symphony Society, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance, the UPMC Health System and the Greater Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
About Thiel College
Thiel College is a liberal arts, sciences and professional studies institution located in Greenville, Pa., that provides a great balance of academic challenge, personal and social involvement, and exceptional value to its 1,100 students. For more information about Thiel College, visit www.thiel.edu or call 800-24-THIEL.