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Thiel College to honor Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg at 2014 Founders’ Day Convocation


GREENVILLE, Pa.—On Feb. 6, Thiel College will recognize 12 faculty and staff and Thiel College alumnus Mark A. Nordenberg ’70, H’97 at the college’s annual Founders’ Day Convocation at 11 a.m. in the Lutheran Heritage Room of the Howard Miller Student Center.

“It is with great pleasure that we are able to honor Thiel alumnus and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg for his significant achievements in higher education, and our faculty and staff honorees for their dedicated efforts to the College,” said Dr. Troy D. VanAken, president of Thiel College.

VanAken will present the Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award to Nordenberg, Chancellor and Distinguished Service Professor of Law University of Pittsburgh.

Nordenberg earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Thiel College in 1970 and then his law degree, from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the faculty of Pitt’s School of Law in 1977 and eventually served as Dean of Pitt’s School of Law and as Interim Provost of the University. In 1994, he was elevated to the special faculty rank of Distinguished Service Professor. In 1995, he was elected Interim Chancellor by the University’s Board of Trustees, and in 1996, following a national search, he was elected Chancellor. Nordenberg announced that he would step down from that office in the summer of 2014, which would mark the end of nineteen years of service.

Nordenberg has received two distinctive forms of recognition from the Pitt Board of Trustees. In June 2005, trustees, alumni leaders and other special friends contributed $2.5 million to endow an academic chair in his name and in October 2012, Pitt announced the naming of the newest residence hall in his honor and the creation of an endowed scholarship fund bearing his name. Even more recently, he received the 2013 Exemplary Leader Award from the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership of the University’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

“Thiel provided me with special opportunities to learn and to grow. A very important part of that learning occurred in the classroom," said Nordenberg. “In addition, I was able to participate in a broad range of extracurricular activities that gave me the chance to develop a better understanding of interpersonal relations, effective communication skills and leadership abilities.”

The Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals 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 Louis and Barbara Thiel, whose generosity made possible the founding of Thiel College in 1866.

Receiving prestigious Professor of the Year Awards are Dr. Nicholas Despo, Paul M. Rike Professor of Life Sciences and Professor Judith Newton, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Despo has been a faculty member at Thiel College for more than 38 years serving as chair of the faculty and, in 2002, receiving the Presidential Distinguished Service Award. He is on the Resch Scholarship Selection Committee and is a faculty adviser to Alpha Chi, Thiel’s National Honorary Society, and Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honorary Society. In 2012, Dr. Despo was named the Paul M. Rike Professor of Life Sciences, one of two endowed chairs at Thiel.

Newton, with 41 years of service to Thiel, has served in both administrative and academic arenas including Assistant Academic Dean. She was instrumental in her contributions to the creation of the computer science major, and has periodically served as the chair of the mathematics and computer science department. Newton was Faculty Representative to the Thiel College Board of Trustees and served on many standing college committees. Professor Newton has received the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Service Award.

Other faculty members to earn recognition are:

  • Dr. Mary Theresa Hall, professor of English, of Hermitage, Pa., Distinguished Service Award.
  • Dr. Jie Wu, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, Distinguished Teacher Award.
  • Dr. Gayle Jesse, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, of Hermitage, Pa., Distinguished Scholar Award.
  • Angela Virostick, adjunct professor of education, of Sharon, Pa., Distinguished Adjunct Award.

Six staff awards will be presented during the ceremony.

  • Jonathan Shearer, Brookfield, Ohio, associate director of web development, Distinguished Innovator Award.
  • John Gasperin, Greenville, Pa., network manager, Distinguished Newcomer Award.
  • Joe Matecka, Greenville, Pa., computer technician, Distinguished Newcomer Award.
  • Jennie Kather, Greenville, Pa., assistant director of public relations, Distinguished Extra Effort Award.
  • Ed Topoleski, Greenville, Pa., assistant director of sports information, Distinguished Outreach Award.
  • Leslie Graul, Greenville, Pa., information technology solution representative, Distinguished Service Staff Award.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution 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. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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