Abbot Placid Solari, Chancellor

abbot2 College Leadership

Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B., a native of Richmond, Virginia, was professed as a monk of Belmont Abbey in 1975. He was ordained in 1980 by The Most Reverend Michael Begley, Bishop of Charlotte. He served at St. Michael Church in Gastonia, NC from 1979-1982, and has assisted in various pastoral and educational ministries in the Diocese of Charlotte. In November of 1999, Abbot Placid was elected the 8th Abbot of Belmont Abbey.

Abbot Placid is the Chancellor of Belmont Abbey College, and has previously served the college as an assistant professor in the Theology Department, as Vice President for Academic Affairs, and as interim President.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Bellarmine College in Louisville, KY in 1974. He earned the S.T.B. degree in Theology from the International Benedictine College of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome in 1978, and a doctorate in Theology and Patristic Sciences from the Pontifical Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” also in Rome.

Dr. William Thierfelder, President

william k thierfelder gray College Leadership

Dr. Bill Thierfelder is currently President of Belmont Abbey College. Founded by Benedictine monks over 136 years ago, the College continues to celebrate the 1,500-year-old Benedictine monastic tradition of prayer and learning by providing its students with an education that will enable them to lead lives of integrity, succeed professionally, become responsible citizens and be a blessing to themselves and to others.

Prior to his appointment as President of Belmont Abbey College, Dr. Thierfelder successfully lead and transitioned fitness legend, York Barbell Company, from a manufacturer to a solutions-based partner, providing sales, marketing, product development and logistical services to mass merchants and major sporting goods retailers throughout the United States and Europe.

Dr. Thierfelder was also a principal in Joyner Sports Medicine Institute, a physical therapy corporation he helped conceptualize, found and develop. After positioning Joyner as a premier provider of physical therapy services, he was instrumental in negotiating the sale of the company to NovaCare, Inc., the nation’s second largest provider of outpatient physical therapy. As NovaCare’s National Director of Sports Science, he created, directed and co-chaired one of the largest and most successful sports medicine and physical rehabilitation conferences in the United States.

He has also served as Executive Director of the Player Management Group, a sports representation company that provided contract negotiation, financial management, legal, career planning and sports medicine services to professional athletes in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Dr. Thierfelder has also helped thousands of athletes, including over a hundred at the Olympic and professional levels, achieve dramatic improvements in their athletic performances. His past clients include NFL stars such as Kyle Brady, TE, New England Patriots; Adrian Wilson, S, Phoenix Cardinals; Bobby Engram, WR, Seattle Seahawks; Omar Easy, FB, Oakland Raiders; and Andre Collins, LB, Washington Redskins; and many others.

Dr. Thierfelder received his master’s and doctoral degrees in Sports Psychology and Human Movement from Boston University. He is a licensed psychologist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychological Specialties. He is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry. He is a former NCAA Division I Coach, Olympian (did not compete due to injury), National Champion (IRE) and a two-time All-American from the University of Maryland. He participated in the 1980 United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and was a medalist at the 1981 U.S. Track & Field Indoor National Championship. Dr. Thierfelder is a member of the Sports Faith International Hall of Fame, which includes world-class athletes, coaches, and team owners, such as George “Papa Bear” Halas, Wellington Mara, Brian Piccolo, and others. Pulling from these experiences, Dr. Thierfelder published his first book, Less Than A Minute To Go, in 2013. All royalties received from the sale of this book are donated to Belmont Abbey College.

Throughout his career, Dr. Thierfelder has delivered hundreds of presentations, both live, and on camera, regarding topics related to faith, sport, education, sports science and medicine, business performance, as well as testifying before the United States Congress in matters related to religious liberty. Dr. Thierfelder has led the fight for religious freedom by initiating the first lawsuit against the federal government over the HHS healthcare mandate.

Dr. Thierfelder was born and raised in New York City. He is a Knight of Malta and currently lives just outside of Charlotte, NC with his wife, Mary, and their ten children. Both Dr. Thierfelder and his wife are Oblates of Belmont Abbey Monastery.

Dr. Mark A. Newcomb, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs

Dr. Newcomb Cropped College Leadership

Dr. Mark A. Newcomb is the Interim Dean for Academic Affairs at Belmont Abbey College. He has served at a number of Liberal Arts colleges in the South, including the Virginia Military Institute and Aquinas College, in Nashville Tennessee. Dr. Newcomb has taught for our First-Year Symposium and Theology Programs and helped with the creation of the Abbey’s Rhetoric Program. As the founding Director of the Thomas More Scholars of Belmont Abbey College, Dr. Newcomb developed a program of courses and experiences designed to encourage and form men and women in the exercise of private and public moral courage.

Dr. Newcomb is the author of the book ‘The Ark, the Covenant, and the Poor Men’s Chest’, to be published by St. Augustine’s Press in the fall of 2014, and is a popular guest speaker on Church History and the English Reformation. Dr. Newcomb was invited to participate in two symposia in Washington, D.C., on the Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization sponsored by the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2011 and 2013.

Dr. Newcomb completed his undergraduate studies at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, majoring in History and French with an intensive minor in the History of Fine Arts. He completed a Master of Theological Studies degree at Duke University Divinity School, with a thesis on the historical development of Trinitarian thought during and after the Reformation. He completed an M. Phil. in Historical Theology at Fordham University in New York, where he had the great good fortune to study with such luminaries as Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Dr. Ewert Cousins; and Mark S. Massa, S.J. Dr. Newcomb’s successful doctoral dissertation at Fordham focused on the interpretation of the Christian Scriptures during the English Reformation. He and his wife, Kimberly, have three daughters, Lucy Marie, Aurelia Lea, and Miriam Thérèse.

Mr. Allan Mark, Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Allan Mark, CPA is the Chief Financial Officer at Belmont Abbey College. He has 14 years of combined experience in auditing, financial reporting and education.

Mr. Mark began his career in finance as a Staff Auditor for Deloitte & Touche, LLP in 2005 where he analyzed client operations and transactions.  He previously served as an Internal Auditor for Motorsports Authentics.  Most recently, Mr. Mark spent seven years as an SEC Financial Reporting Analyst at Sonic Automotive Inc. specializing in SEC filings and fixed asset project tracking.  Prior to entering the financial industry, he spent six years teaching Mathematics at Gaston County Schools.

Mr. Mark earned a Master of Accountancy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as well as a B.A. in Science from Canisius College. He lives near Charlotte, NC with his wife Susie and their 5 year old son.

Mr. R. Gregory Swanson, J.D., Vice President for College Relations & General Counsel

headshotGSwanson College LeadershipMr. R. Gregory Swanson is the Vice President for College Relations and General Counsel at Belmont Abbey College.  His career encompasses more than three decades of diverse experience including the practice of law in higher education as well as in the private sector, the implementation of higher education’s institutional development, and the workings of administration in higher education.

Prior to accepting his latest position at Belmont Abbey College, Mr. Swanson served six years as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and General Counsel at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. He was responsible for public relations, financial development, alumni, external relationships, giving programs and the legal advice and guidance to the school’s president, administrative and academic departments, offices, and related entities.  He began a successful career in higher education there in 1998 as University Counsel and Director of Special Gifts.

Before entering the field of higher education, Mr. Swanson spent 15 years practicing law in Omaha, NE, and a year as a District Liaison for Congressman Hal Daub of  Nebraska.

Mr. Swanson’s view of development, which stems from 14 years of higher education experience, focuses on fundraising and fostering the relationship between the institution and its donors and alumni.

Mr. Swanson earned a Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University School of Law and a B.A. from Creighton University.

He and his wife Maria have three grown children.