Thiel College receives largest gift in its history -
$25 million fund from philanthropist and businessman William S. Dietrich II will first honor his parents who met at Thiel College with the Kenneth and Marianna Brown Dietrich Honors Institute
Thiel College announced on Nov. 3 that businessman, scholar, philanthropist and proud northwest Pennsylvania native William S. Dietrich II 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 October 6. On Feb. 11, during the inaugural Winter Weekend at Thiel, the gift's initial use was announced.
The Dietrich Honors Institute will expand and deepen the existing Thiel College honors program, creating over time a program that is accessible, integrated into the wider curriculum and featuring a wide variety of honors activities and academic offerings. A re-invigorated honors program is one of the priorities of the college's newly adopted strategic plan.
“Bill Dietrich was a model of lifelong learning and self-improvement, and we are happy to honor those who instilled that passion for knowledge in him, his beloved parents and Thiel alumni, Ken and Marianna,” said Dr. Troy VanAken, Thiel College president. “Bill’s generosity, farsightedness and faith will bring the College to new heights as an institution that focuses primarily on academics and a holistic student experience.”
To view a slideshow of images from the Winter Weekend, visit here.
Read the gift announcement press release (Nov. 2011)
Read the gift use announcement press release (Feb. 2012)
William S. Dietrich II (1938-2011)
Bill Dietrich was presented with the Haller Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1996 by President C. Carlyle Haaland and Professor David Miller ’61.
Bill's Connections to Thiel
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.
About William S. Dietrich II
After graduating from Princeton University in 1960, Bill 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 Bill 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.
Bill 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.
Bill Dietrich and President VanAken at Carnegie Mellon University, September 2011
Press Kit Materials
Press Release (pdf) | Announcement Handout | Announcement Prayer
William S. Dietrich II: Portrait (jpg) | Marianna Brown Dietrich, photo (jpg) | Kenneth P. Dietrich, photo (jpg)
Thiel College President VanAken: Biography Page | Portrait (jpg)
Thiel College: Fact Sheet
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.