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UMES President Thelma Thompson Announces Retirement

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. —  Dr. Thelma B. Thompson announced today she will retire on Aug. 15 as president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

“I’ve reached a point in my career here at UMES where I am comfortably saying that I have accomplished what I set out to do,” Dr. Thompson said in a written statement. “The time is right for me to move on to the next stage of my life, professionally and personally.”

Her decision ends a nine-year tenure at the state’s lone 1890 land-grant university. Colleagues at peer institutions have consistently ranked UMES in the upper tier of historically Black colleges and universities in an annual magazine survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report.

Jesse T. Williams Sr., chairman of UMES’ Board of Visitors, said Thompson approached the job with a “laser-like focus on academic excellence. That and her insistence on academic integrity are hallmarks of her tenure.”

“Her emphasis on securing accreditation for nearly two dozen academic programs, the globalization of the curriculum, unprecedented fund-raising and securing grants and sponsored research cement her legacy,” Williams said in a written statement.

Thompson’s decision to step down this summer coincides with the successful conclusion of a seven-year campaign to raise a record $14 million, with endowed scholarships accounting for a large portion of that total.

Among the hallmarks of the Thompson era:

  • More than $150 million in external grants and sponsored research funding came to the university to support its land-grant mission.
  • UMES became more visible on the national and international stage; the university has some two dozen international linkages that provide faculty and students an opportunity to travel to and interact with educators in other countries. Much of the international work is in capacity building, where UMES’ employees work within countries such as the Sudan.
  • Introduction of the concept of commercialization and formation of the Hawk Corp., a 501(c)(3) corporation owned by UMES. The venture enables UMES to conduct entrepreneurial initiatives with collaborative agreements
  • The university had a hand in developing a satellite launched from a nearby NASA facility and, later this month, the university will formally announce that its new 17-acre solar-power generating facility on campus is fully operational.

Thompson, a naturalized American citizen from Jamaica, is a life-long educator who graduated with honors from Howard University D.C., where she earned all three of her degrees. In the past year, she also has received honorary degrees from Sojourner-Douglas College in Baltimore and Walter Sisulu University in South Africa.

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