Dean Emeritus Thompson retires after 24 years with Mizzou Engineering

The Thompsons pose in front of a staircase.

Jim Thompson, seen here with his wife and four children, retired Tuesday after 24 years with Mizzou Engineering. Photo by Amy Parris.

After 24 years of service to the MU College of Engineering, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Jim Thompson retired Tuesday, celebrating his long career in engineering education with family, friends and colleagues.

“I enjoyed my time here. I made more friends here than any place I have ever been, so I thank you,” Thompson said at a reception in his honor.

Thompson was hired as dean of Mizzou Engineering in 1994 and held the position for 20 years before stepping down in 2014 and joining the MAE faculty. Throughout his tenure, he was a champion for engineering education, doubling the College’s undergraduate student enrollment and spearheading new degree programs in Bioengineering, Computer Science and Information Technology.

Experiential learning opportunities, entrepreneurship, undergraduate research, student teams and international programs all saw growth under Thompson, and he established the Engineering Research Office, among many other accomplishments. For his efforts, he received the Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering from Mizzou Engineering in 2016.

“I can tell you what an incredible person I had the opportunity to follow. It is very rare that a person stays in a dean role for 20 years. … What an incredible person and tremendous work that was done,” MU Engineering Dean Elizabeth Loboa said of her predecessor.

Thompson began in engineering education in 1976, when he took a faculty position at the University of South Carolina. He then moved on to the University of Texas at Arlington before serving as dean of engineering at the University of New Mexico. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Tech.

“We’ll miss you very much, and I was very, very privileged to work with you to make great strides in the College of Engineering,” MAE Interim Chair Noah Manring said.

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