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Thiel College raises $61 million to exceed largest fundraising goal in its history


GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College surpassed the largest fundraising goal in its history today. The Thiel 2016 Campaign exceeded its goal by raising $61 million. The campaign will continue through December 2016.

Thiel College President Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D., announced the news to the Board of Trustees, Board of Associates and Alumni Association Board of Directors at a luncheon held this afternoon. The announcement comes two days after the kickoff of the College’s sesquicentennial celebration.

“Our generous alumni, friends and partners made this historic moment possible. At no time in Thiel College’s 150 years has the institution’s endowment been this strong,” VanAken said. “More than 8,500 donors worked together and lifted the College to unprecedented heights.”

The Thiel 2016 Campaign began its quiet phase in July 2009 with a target of $60 million by the end of this year. The campaign was a core component of the Thiel 2016 Strategic Plan and entered the public phase last October. A number of major gifts in the past three months led to the campaign surpassing its goal 10 months early.

Thiel College’s endowment grew from $19 million to $68 million over the course of the campaign. The campaign includes $13 million from the largest gift in the College’s history—a $25 million total gift from The Dietrich Foundation. The gift established The Kenneth ’31 and Marianna Brown ’32 Dietrich Honors Institute, an improved honors program that promotes leadership and cultural experiences.

Many more campaign gifts ranked among the largest in school history. Greenville native David E. Baughman bequeathed $3.7 million, the second-largest estate gift in the College’s history. It funds the Emerson A. Baughman, Agnes F. Baughman and David E. Baughman Endowed Scholarship, which bestows full-tuition scholarships annually to specific local school district graduates who attend Thiel.

Washington D.C.-businessman and movie producer James Pedas ’50 H’89 provided the lead gift and creative vision for the $6.8 million James Pedas Communication Center. The Center is a 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art collaborative learning environment and the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building on campus. Pedas, a Farrell native, and his brother, Ted, were on hand as the building was dedicated in fall 2014.

Other Thiel 2016 Campaign highlights included:

  • Four new endowed academic chairs
  • Enhanced laboratories and classrooms
  • The Rissell-Schreyer Dome, a seasonal structure that gives student-athletes practice space during winter months
  • New turf and lighting at Alumni Stadium
  • The Rod E. Wilt ’86 Head Coach for Thiel College Wrestling, the first endowed coaching position in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference

The campaign supported a revised core curriculum and created new scholarship and student and faculty research opportunities. Future plans include building four showcase science labs, the addition of a science connector, and completing construction of the track and field complex.

Interim Vice President for College Advancement Roberta Leonard has been with the campaign since its start. Prior to her current role, Leonard was the executive director of the Thiel 2016 Campaign.

“Our guiding principle has always been how each project enhances the student experience,” Leonard said. “The investments donors made throughout the Thiel 2016 Campaign will impact this generation and future generations of students.”

Chair of the Board of Trustees Barry Stamm, M.D. ’70 also served as the Thiel 2016 Campaign Chair. A Thiel 2016 Campaign Cabinet, composed of more than 20 College stakeholders, supported fundraising efforts by hosting events, engaging alumni and friends, and providing leadership on interest-specific initiatives.

“It has been an honor to serve my alma mater throughout the campaign,” Stamm said. “I have been energized to see the excitement grow with the alumni and friends of Thiel College, as well as our campus community, throughout this effort.”

President VanAken was inaugurated as the nineteenth president of Thiel College the same year the campaign began.

“This campaign has invested in excellence and brought momentum to move the College forward,” VanAken said. “Together, we are building a stronger Thiel College that will continue to serve students for the next 150 years. Our work is not done, but this is a truly exceptional moment in our history.”

About Thiel College

Thiel College is an independent college founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. The College is also home to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and graduate programs in, Business Administration, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Communication and Leadership, Physician Assistant and Speech-Language Pathology. All of Thiel College’s master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce outstanding graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to diversity and inclusion. The College combines tradition with innovation as it honors its past and celebrates its future.

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