Discover Madison Kentucky January-February 2021 - Page 8

We Live Here
Aaron Thompson
college career continued , Thompson took a sociology class . “ Boy , it really talked to me ,” Thompson recalled . “ It was saying the things that I felt like was me .” Thompson graduated from EKU in 1978 with a major in pre-law political sciences as well as industrial sociology . Thompson said during his time at EKU , a desire started to burn within him to become an educator . However , when he graduated from college , he was relatively poor and was simply looking for a job . So , he did not go back to get his Ph . D . for some years .
Instead , Thompson joined the workforce .
Thompson worked up the ladder at both Winn-Dixie and Kroger , however , the desire to be a professor never left his brain . So , nine years later , Thompson decided to go back and get his Ph . D .
“ It was tough ,” Thompson said of the decision . “ Leaving a job where I was getting paid really good money to go to college to get a degree for something that was going to pay me less money .”
Despite this , Thompson decided to follow his passion . He attended the University of Kentucky and received his Ph . D . in sociology in organizational behavior , race and gender , and equality .
After graduating and while finishing up his dissertation , Thompson met a friend from the past .
Thompson happened to meet a sociology professor he had become friends with during his time at EKU while he was getting off an elevator at UK . The professor asked Thompson if he would be willing to teach a summer school course . Thompson agreed , and thus , the start of his career as an educator began .
He was offered a full-time job at EKU after he taught that summer school course .
It was a chance to give back to his alma mater , Thompson explained .
“ It was a chance to give back to my community which I care for , as well as the university that gave me the start to my career ,” Thompson said . Thompson moved around from there . He took a research job at the University of Missouri . Along the way , Thompson decided to come back to EKU and accepted a job in administration . Once again , Thompson moved up the ladder . After holding numerous leadership positions at EKU and serving as a tenured professor in the department of educational leadership and policy studies . Thompson joined CPE in 2009 , but left briefly in 2016 , when he took over as interim president of Kentucky State University

“ “ It was saying the things that

I felt like was me .” for more than a year .

In 2018 , Thompson became the fourth president of the Council of Post Secondary Education .
Thompson said his job entails being the head of public higher education for the state of Kentucky . This means he works with the public universities and colleges to look at what they think is best for Kentucky and it ’ s students . “ I do a whole lot more than that ,” Thompson said with a laugh . “ But , that ’ s it in a nutshell .”
Thompson said all of the things he has learned while working in the business world and the higher education world has led him to a place where he can now work with the legislature , governor ’ s officers , and national entities to help students become more successful .
Student success , Thompson said , was always at the forefront of his mind .
Even when he was attending college as a student himself , he was focused on what universities could do as far as policies , teaching , and more , to help students become
SUBMITTED PHOTO In 2019 , Dr . Thompson was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in recognition for his work in advancing diversity , equity and inclusion throughout his career , but specifically for the work in closing achievement gaps of Blacks and other underrepresented minorities . He is pictured above with his family who turned out for the ceremony .
8 Madison Magazine January-February 2021