Susan Traverso, Ph.D.
President of Thiel College
Susan Traverso, Ph.D., took office on August 1, 2016, as Thiel College’s 20th and first female president.
In her first year, President Traverso concluded the largest fundraising campaign in school history, dedicated the new track & field complex and oversaw the construction of the new Haer Family Science and Arts Connector. She put in place a new strategic plan to lead the College into 2021, revamping Thiel’s first-year student experience, initiating several new programs, including Environmental Safety Management, Exercise Science, Sports Management, and Equine Studies, and launching a renewal of the College’s residential facilities and Academic Center.
In fall 2017, the College launched a year-long Interfaith Series that brought the first Muslim chaplain of Augsburg University and a Buddhist monk to Thiel. The College also hosted Catholic and Protestant leaders to discuss the Reformation at its 500th anniversary, and featured Right Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop, Emeritus, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land. Dr. Donald Kraybill, an international expert on the Amish, served as the College’s Commencement speaker in May 2018 as a capstone for the year’s theme of interfaith dialogue. Under Traverso’s leadership, Thiel College was one of 26 institutions selected by the Council of Independent Colleges to participate in the inaugural Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute.
Prior to coming to Thiel, Traverso served as the provost and senior vice president of Elizabethtown College (Pa.). She was previously the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Associate Professor of History at the University of Redlands (Redlands, Calif.); director of the Associated New American Colleges (ANAC) Academy; and associate professor and chair of history at North Central College (Naperville, Ill.). Additionally, Traverso served the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco, Yemen and Bulgaria.
A recognized and accomplished speaker on academic leadership issues, Traverso has presented to the Council of Independent Colleges, American Academic Leadership Institute, Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Network for Vocation in Higher Education. An American social policy and women’s history scholar, she is the author of “Welfare Politics in Boston, 1910-40.”
Traverso is a board member of the Pittsburgh-based Dietrich Foundation. She previously served as a trustee of the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and on the board of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, which she also chaired. Since becoming President at Thiel, Traverso has deepened the College’s connection with The Pittsburgh Promise and established a partnership with the Hope Center for Arts and Technology, which is affiliated with Pittsburgh’s Manchester Bidwell Corporation.
Traverso holds doctoral and master’s degrees in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in history and communications from Simmons College (Boston, Mass.). She has continued her education through a series of leadership development programs in recent years.
Traverso and her husband, Kent Taylor, have a daughter, Linden, and a son, Kent.