Dr. Alton Thompson

Executive Director

Association of Research Directors of 1890 Land Grant Universities

Dr. Thompson is currently the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He serves as the Executive Director for the Association of Research Directors of 1890 Land Grant Universities (ARD). ARD is the federation of the nineteen autonomous 1890 land grant universities that provides coordination of traditional and emerging research initiatives among member 1890 Institutions in cooperation with federal, state and private partners.  As the ARD Executive Director, he serves as a liaison between the agricultural research communities, the 1890 Cooperative Extension Programs, the other four regions of the land grant university system, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, other federal agencies and offices and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.   He represents the Association and its members on matters related to the federal budget, research priorities, and legislative issues pertaining to a broadly defined multistate portfolio as well as private appropriation of funds for 1890 regional research and innovation.

Prior to joining ARD in July 2016, Thompson was a tenured professor and dean and executive director for Agricultural Programs in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University for eight years and then served as interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for two years. From 2010 to 2016, he served as the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Delaware State University.   His collaborative, energetic and enthusiastic style of leadership elevated all aspects of these two 1890 land grant universities related to teaching, learning, scholarship and research.

Thompson earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina Central University and his master’s and doctorate from The Ohio State University. His academic specialty is in the interface of statistics, research methods, demography, and rural sociology.

His research has resulted in the publication of 25 articles in refereed journals, seven book chapters, and a book entitled “Quality of Life among Rural Residents in North Carolina: Community and Life Satisfaction.”  His research focus includes agromedicine, rural poverty/development, labor economics, and the structure of agriculture.  Thompson’s grantsmanship has resulted in more than $10.0 million in extra-mural research funds.

Thompson was inducted into the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2010 and he has also served in leadership roles on the Board of Agriculture Assembly for the Association of Public and State Universities, the 1890 Council of Deans of Agriculture, the Ford Foundation’s Rural Economic Policy Program, Census of Agriculture Advisory Panel of the National Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, and the Southern Governors’ Southern Growth Policies Board.  Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of Food Systems Leadership Institute, and Carolina Farm Credit.

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