Thiel College Celebrates Donations and Student Achievement with Honors Convocation

By: Hannah Stoughton

April 8th, 2022: Thiel College hosted the annual Honors Convocation on April 8th, 2022, in the William A. Passavant center to honor student achievement and donations made by friends of the college.

The academic honors convocation has been celebrated annually at Thiel since 1928. The event is meant to celebrate the achievements and scholarships of students, as well as honor any faculty, alumni, or influential figures in the college that have made an impact on the college within the last year.

Students that achieved the highest academic marks were invited to attend the academic honors convocation to celebrate their achievements throughout the fall semester. Students in the top honors society, Alpha Chi, were honored as well.

Senior Jamin Wentling was the student speaker selected for the event. A 2018 graduate of Greenville High School, Wentling is a neuroscience major that plans to join the SLB program at Thiel College. His speech can be seen here.

Thiel College also honored the generous donation of Daniel Spence and his late wife Dorothy “Dottie” Spence. The Spences provided a total donation of $4 million, with both Dottie and Daniel donating $2 million each. Their gift is being used to renovate the Academic Center on campus, something that they hope will inspire generations to continue pursuing higher education at Thiel College.

“It is my hope that this gift to help renovate the Academic Center will satisfy Dottie’s wish [to help others] and will in fact help students for generations to come,” said Daniel. President Susan Traverso’s honoring of the Spences can be found here.

Daniel comes from a long line of Thiel alumni. His mother, Betty, graduated at the age of 16 with a degree in mathematics from Thiel. Other family alumni are his uncles, William Harter, who was inducted into the Thiel College athletics Hall of Fame in 1986, and Rev. Dr. Nathan Harter, who also taught at Thiel during the 1950s. Daniel’s grandmother, Bessie Harter, was also an extremely influential member on campus.

Daniel’s grandfather, Nathan Warren Harter, was one of the most impactful members of faculty that Thiel College has ever seen. Coming to Thiel in 1911 to teach mathematics, astronomy, and geology, he also was a coach for tennis, golf, and football. He was known for his willingness to help students, with one of the most notable instances being his choice to work without pay during the Great Depression to ensure the future of Thiel. After his death in 1952, the student body unanimously agreed to name the dorm being built after him, thus the existence of Harter Hall, which was then torn down in 2013.

The honors convocation is amongst the favorite events on campus. Much of the student society and faculty look forward to the event each year, especially the student speakers. This event happens in the Spring semester of every academic year.

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