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.
Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.
FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.
The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.
The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.
About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste
FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.
Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.
The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.
The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.
FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.