Thiel College Names Traverso Its 20th President

GREENVILLE, Pa. – Thiel College today named Susan Traverso its 20th president. Traverso has served as the provost and senior vice president at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., since 2007. She takes office in August as the first woman to hold the position.

Traverso will replace Troy D. VanAken, who announced his resignation in February to become the president of Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill. VanAken, appointed in 2009, and will continue leading the college through the summer.

Thiel’s board of trustees elected Traverso at its May meeting upon the recommendation of the presidential search committee, who began a national search in February under the leadership of consultant Peter Mitchell and committee chairman John Frangakis, vice chairman 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.”

At Elizabethtown College, Traverso coordinated $60 million in campus improvements and advanced 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.”

Before joining Elizabethtown College, Traverso was dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and associate professor of history at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., and associate professor and chairwoman of the history department at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Additionally, she served the U.S. Peace Corps in a variety of roles—including education coordinator and director—in countries 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 chairwoman 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.”

She holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a baccalaureate in history and communications from Simmons College in Boston.

Pictured: Susan Traverso speaks to faculty, students and alumni at Tuesday’s announcement of her selection.

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