Thiel College Selects Dr. Susan Traverso as Its 20th President

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Susan Traverso, Ph.D., was selected as Thiel College's 20th and first female president. She begins August 2016.

Dr. Traverso addresses the Thiel College campus and local community.

Thiel College’s 20th president, Susan Traverso, Ph.D., addresses attendees during Tuesday’s press conference.

As the College celebrates its 150th anniversary, the excitement on campus is contagious, and I am optimistic that we can accomplish great things together.

Susan Traverso, Ph.D., has been named the 20th president of Thiel College. Traverso has served as the provost and senior vice president at Elizabethtown College since 2007. She takes office in August as the first female president of Thiel College.

“The Board of Trustees is elated to appoint Dr. Susan Traverso as the College’s next president,” Chair of the Board of Trustees Barry Stamm, M.D. ’70 said. “Dr. Traverso has the creative and hard-working spirit that will inspire confidence and continue the College’s momentum as we celebrate our sesquicentennial anniversary.”

At Elizabethtown College (Elizabethtown, Pa.), Traverso is a senior member of the college’s leadership team and a professor of history. Her responsibilities include strategic, personnel and facilities planning; oversight of the college’s academic and student life programs; coordination of programs, enrollment, financial planning and budget analysis; campaign planning, fundraising and donor relations; supervision of the dean of faculty, the dean of students and seven directors; and engagement with faculty leadership and governance. Traverso co-chaired the Strategic Planning Committee, and chairs the Facilities Planning and Construction Committee and the Hiring Review Committee.

Traverso’s significant achievements include coordinating $60 million in campus improvements and advancing fundraising priorities that resulted in external funding of $20 million. Traverso also created an Office of Sponsored Research and Programs, developed the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and established the Center for Community and Civic Engagement.

“I am honored to join the Thiel College community as its 20th president,” Traverso said. “As the College celebrates its 150th anniversary, the excitement on campus is contagious, and I am optimistic that we can accomplish great things together. I look forward to extending the momentum on campus through partnerships with Greenville community leaders.”

Previous roles have included 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 a variety of roles—including education coordinator and director—in locales such as Morocco, Yemen and Bulgaria.

A prolific 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. She serves on the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design board, and is the chair of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra board. An American social policy and women’s history scholar, she is also the author of “Welfare Politics in Boston.”

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 two children, Linden and Kent.

The Thiel College Board of Trustees elected Traverso at their May meeting upon the recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee. The committee began a national search in February under the leadership of consultant Dr. Peter Mitchell and committee chair John Frangakis. Frangakis is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.

“The process attracted 70 applications and serious expressions of interest, which gave the committee a strong pool to choose from,” Frangakis said. “I was humbled to see board members, faculty, staff, students and community members come together to facilitate this important process in an expedient, yet thorough, manner. We’re confident that Dr. Traverso will be an effective leader for the College.”

Traverso replaces Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D., who announced his resignation in February to accept the presidency at Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, Ill.). VanAken has served as the 19th president since 2009 and will continue leading the College through the summer.

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