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Alton Thompson, Ph.D.


Executive Director
Association of 1890 Research Directors

Dr. Alton Thompson is currently the executive director for the Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD). As ARD’s executive director, he provides leadership and coordination in representing the Association in developing multistate and national priorities and implementing a regional response for the 1890 system. In addition, Thompson promotes, articulates and advocates the priorities of the 1890 region’s research agenda within the framework of the US Department of Agriculture National Institute for Agriculture (NIFA), other federal agencies and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Thompson serves in an executive capacity on several committees and working groups focusing on legislative issues, federal, state and private appropriation of funds for 1890 multistate research and the long-term direction of established and developing 1890 universities initiatives.

Prior to joining ARD in August 2016, Thompson served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Delaware State University (DSU). As DSU’s chief academic officer, he provided leadership to all operations related to academic planning and budgeting; program evaluation, assessment and accreditation; educational policies and procedures; professional development; promotion and tenure of faculties; and strategic planning. His collaborative, enthusiastic and authentic style of leadership elevated all aspects of the University related to teaching, learning, scholarship, research and outreach.

Prior to joining DSU in July 2010, 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.

Thompson earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina Central University, his master’s, and doctorate degrees from The Ohio State University.

Thompson academic specialty is in the interface of statistics, research methods, demography and rural sociology. His research has resulted in the publication of 27 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 $15 million in extra-mural research funds.

Thompson was inducted into the NIFA Hall of Fame in 2008. 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. He currently serves on the board of directors of Carolina Farm Credit, Food Systems Leadership Institute, Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation and the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center.

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