Thiel College President Troy D. VanAken presented the Louis and Barbara Thiel Distinguished Service Award to Thiel College alumnus Mark A. Nordenberg, ’70, H’97, Chancellor and Distinguished Service Professor of Law University of Pittsburgh.
“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,” VanAken said.
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, after a national search, was elected chancellor.
Nordenberg has announced that he will step down from that office in the summer, which would mark the end of 19 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 both the naming of its newest residence hall in his honor, and the creation of an endowed scholarship fund bearing his name.
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.
Nordenberg served as a member of the Thiel College Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1997 and received a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the college in 1988. In 1997, he served as Thiel’s commencement speaker and was the recipient of an honorary degree. He also was the keynote speaker at the inauguration of President VanAken in April 2010.
“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.
The college also recognized 12 faculty for their service during the convocation.
Receiving prestigious Professor of the Year Awards were 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 for more than 38 years, serving as chairman 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.
Newton, with 41 years of service to Thiel, has served in both administrative and academic arenas including assistant academic dean. She was instrumental in the creation of the computer science major and has periodically served as the chairwoman 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 were Mary Theresa Hall, professor of English, of Hermitage, Pa., Distinguished Service Award; Jie Wu, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, Distinguished Teacher Award; Gayle Jesse, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, of Hermitage, Distinguished Scholar Award; and Angela Virostick, adjunct professor of education, of Sharon, Pa., Distinguished Adjunct Award.
Six staff awards were 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, computer technician, Distinguished Newcomer Award; Jennie Kather, Greenville, assistant director of public relations, Distinguished Extra Effort Award; Ed Topoleski, Greenville, assistant director of sports information, Distinguished Outreach Award; and Leslie Graul, Greenville, information technology solution representative, Distinguished Service Staff Award.