Abbot Placid Solari, Chancellor

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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

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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. David M. Williams, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs

DW22 819x1024 College LeadershipDr. David M. Williams is the Interim Dean for Academic Affairs at Belmont Abbey College. After earning doctorates in Political Science and Theology, he came to the College as a member of the theology department in 1999. Dr. Williams has served the College in a variety of capacities: as Chair of the Theology Department, and of the Government & Political Philosophy Department, as Chair of the Professional Affairs Committee which reviews applications for tenure and promotion, and as Chair of the Faculty Assembly. Together with Donald Beagle, the Director of Library Services, Dr. Williams was instrumental in the development of the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, Promoting Information Literacy Over Time (PILOT), as a way of helping students learn to navigate the many streams of information that deluge the 21st century.

Dr. Williams is the author of the book Receiving the Bible in Faith: Historical and Theological Exegesis, published by The Catholic University of America Press, and often speaks on theological topics or as part of diocesan programs.

Raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York, and brought up a Methodist, Dr. Williams was received into the Catholic Church during his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University, where he majored in Government and minored in Philosophy. After graduation, he earned an M.A. in Christian Ethics at Boston College, followed by doctorates in Political Science and Theology. His political science doctoral dissertation focused on the natural law thinking of the great Jesuit theologian, Francisco Suarez, and the dissertation in theology reviewed theological modes of reading Scripture. Dr. Williams lives in the city of Mount Holly, with his wife Emily.

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.