Thiel academic center to recognize donors Daniel, Dorothy Spence

May 10—GREENVILLE — Before her passing in 2021, Dorothy Spence told her husband Daniel to help other people.

Daniel took that wish to heart and made the lead gift of a $4 million project at Thiel College's academic center — which will be named the Daniel and Dorothy Spence Academic Center in the couple's honor.

"I'm only half of this, the other half of this gift comes from Dorothy," Daniel told a crowd during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon.

Thiel College President Dr. Susan Traverso, who was one of the speakers for the event, said the academic center contains classrooms for many courses, including the physicians assistant program, chemistry classes, math classes and the business administration and accounting program.

The renovation will enhance multiple entryways, the main lobby and the lower level, which will include a new office suite and "significant investment" for the Department of Nursing, according to a press release.

Future enhancements will modernize labs, classrooms and the entrance to the Langenheim Memorial Library, the release states.

Traverso said the renovations will be a multi-year project, and thanked Daniel and the other donors for their financial contributions toward the project.

Traverso said she had the chance to meet Dorothy, or "Dottie" as she was known, and could tell the love Dorothy held for Daniel and the community. Traverso later presented Daniel a golden shovel.

Rod Wilt, executive director of Penn-Northwest Development Corp. and chair of the college board of trustees, said the renovations made possible by the Spences' contribution were a "multi-generational gift."

"The number of students who will be impacted by your gift — we'll never know," Wilt told Daniel.

Although not a Thiel student himself, Daniel said he has many personal connections to the college, including his father, Nathan Harter, for whom Harter Hall is named, and an uncle who taught at the college.

The Spences were also active in the community outside of the college, with Daniel having served as president of the Greenville Kiwanis.

When Dorothy passed and Daniel looked for something that could help the people of the greater Greenville area, Daniel eventually settled on Thiel College.

It was there that Traverso told him that many of the students were first-generation college students, much like Dorothy had been.

Dorothy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in mathematics and an MBA. She moved to the Greenville area when she and Daniel married in 2013.

"Those were the best years of our lives. We had a lot of love for each other," Daniel said.

Other speakers at the event included Dr. Greg Butcher, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, and Audra Franley, coordinator of campus ministries, who led a prayer of dedication.

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