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North Hills Monthly

New Thiel College Programs, Facilities Help Students Reach Full Potential

Jul 31, 2018 02:23PM ● By Vanessa Orr

The $4.5 million Haer Family Science and Arts Connector adds nearly 8,000 square feet of classroom, lab and collaborative space at Thiel College. The new facility, along with four new programs, are all part of the positive momentum at the leading liberal arts college in Mercer County. Photo courtesy of Massery Photography,

There are many reasons why students choose to attend Thiel College—some are attracted to its reputation as a leading liberal arts college, and others to the fact that it features a small, tightly knit community. Still others like that it embraces the Lutheran education model, which promotes openness, inclusivity, transparency, tolerance for others and community building.

Now students have one more reason to attend this northwest Pennsylvania school—the addition of four new programs that will help them prepare for successful careers in rapidly growing fields. This past year, Thiel added Environmental Safety Management, Exercise Science, Sports Management and Health Systems to its roster of programs available to undergraduates.

The college has also added three new facilities since 2014, highlighted by the $4.5 million, 7,850 sq. ft. Haer Family Science and Arts Connector that includes four enhanced labs to facilitate faculty and student research collaboration. A competition-certified track with a grass infield, which opens additional practice and recreational space for Thiel teams and intramural programming, was also added.

“We’re always mindful of how we prepare students; not just for careers, but for the world that they are entering,” explained Liz Frombgen, Ph.D., dean and vice president for academic affairs. “We not only want them to be able to find good jobs, but to find a way to benefit their communities.

“Facilities and amenities are important to creating a culture of accomplishment, but the most important aspect of campus life at Thiel is in the classroom and laboratory,” she added.

According to Frombgen, Thiel’s four-year bachelor’s degree program in Environmental Safety Management is quite unique. “This program merges two of the college’s strongest programs—environmental science and business—in an interesting new way,” she explained, adding that students will especially benefit from the 12-credit, full summer internship that is required as part of the program. “It will enable students who enter the field of safety to work in public, private and nonprofit industries.”

Environmental safety graduates can work in a variety of locations, including hospitals, mines, drilling rigs, educational facilities and manufacturing plants. “This degree puts Thiel at the forefront of environmental safety management and will give our graduates high earning and career growth potential regardless of the industry in which they choose to work,” added Mark Marmo ’93, president and CEO of Zelienople-based Deep Well Services and a member of Thiel’s board of trustees. 

And graduates of this program will be able to find opportunities in the region—according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York rank as three of the top five markets for job growth for environmental safety management professionals.

The school’s Exercise Science major, which is housed in the biology department, includes the study of facility management, exercise testing and prescription, kinesiology, physiology, medical terminology, human anatomy and more to help students understand how the body responds to exercise and physical activity. Graduates will be prepared for careers as exercise, rehabilitation, recreational, educational, or athletic professionals, or can go on to further study.

“We left the program open by design so that students can explore a lot of different routes,” said Frombgen. “We also based it in the biology department because ours is a science-based program, while some other programs are more physical education-driven.”

The major combines practical application with academic preparation, which is especially helpful for students pursuing graduate study in physical or occupational therapy, exercise or sports physiology, or sports medicine.

Students pursuing a Business Administration major can take advantage of a new track in Sports Management, which opens up careers in athletic administration, sport/recreational facility management, coaching, and event management.

“In the 1980s, when I was at Thiel, working in pro sports wouldn’t have been a big hook. But the industry has changed significantly since I was in school,” said Pittsburgh Penguins’ Senior Vice President for Finance Kevin Hart ’86. “Today, it’s big business and recognized as big business.”

Within this track, students will learn management theory, as well as planning, promoting, financing, sponsoring, marketing, communication, and operating sports events and organizations. They will also have the opportunity to gain practical skills and real-world experience working in collaboration with business professionals from the sports industry.

“When I first applied to Thiel, they didn’t have the sports management track, and I was so excited when they added it,” said Junior Jessica Peters. “The school’s business department is already amazing, and being from Pittsburgh, I’m a huge sports fan, so when they added the opportunity to go into sports management, it was a dream come true!”

Peters plans to double major in sports management and accounting, and is hoping to work as a financial analyst for sports teams or as a corporate partnership manager after she graduates in 2021. 

 Thiel College is also implementing a new Health Systems major this fall, an interdisciplinary collaboration of the school’s departments of Biology, Neuroscience and Psychology.

“A lot of students are interested in careers in healthcare, but don’t know where they want to go; they are not clear about a specific area of study,” said Greg Butcher, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and assistant academic dean. “The Health Systems major is an onboarding program where they can explore many of the options that are available and take all of the foundational courses they need while figuring out what is right for them.

“This is a real benefit because in many programs, students don’t have access to these opportunities until they reach the graduate level,” he added.

Students work with an advisor from one of the three departments, who makes sure that they’re staying on track and also advises them about the resources available and what they need to do to prepare to move on to graduate school. “We advise them on job shadowing, scholarships, and summer opportunities to make them more competitive for when they apply,” said Butcher.

Through the school’s Health Professions Institute, students are also able to take courses exploring career opportunities, learn more about issues facing healthcare, practice interviewing skills, and meet professionals in the field who share their experiences and can provide advice.

“Our mission is to help our students reach their full potential, and to live lives of meaning and purpose,” said Frombgen. “We have developed these programs and facilities to allow them to develop into who they want to be. And we measure ourselves by their success.”

For more information, visit, email or call 1-800-24-THIEL.