Kean University Appoints Dr. Vinton Thompson to Provost
UNION, N.J. –Kean University President Dawood Farahi has appointed Dr. Vinton Thompson to become the institution’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs, effective July 1, 2004.
Most recently, Thompson served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Roosevelt University in Chicago, a progressive and diverse independent university committed to student success, academic quality and social justice for its 7,400 students.
Thompson arrives at Kean with a reputation for being ahead of the academic curve on issues of curriculum and student recruitment, while demonstrating a keen financial savvy and a feel for successful fund-raising support. Since assuming the provost’s office at Roosevelt in April 2000, Thompson was credited for maintaining the university’s academic and institutional momentum during its three-and-a-half year period of presidential transition. At the same time, he administered to the institution’s financial health as well, overseeing three full fiscal-year budget cycles that produced surpluses of at least $1.6 million and as much as $2.2 million each year. Thompson also supported the president and vice president for development in successful fund-raising efforts that included gifts of $5 million and $1 million from Roosevelt alumni and more than $3.5 million in funds from private business for the university’s new real-estate program.
Farahi said that he was impressed with Thompson’s work at Roosevelt, and noted that he addressed many of the same issues he will face at Kean. “Dr. Thompson aspires to the standards of a university that dares to be innovative without cost to the fundamentals of higher education,” he said. “He has demonstrated a clear commitment to academic excellence in an environment that values its own diversity, and that will serve him well at Kean. I’m very eager to begin working with him, and we’re excited about the future of Kean University.”
A New Jersey native who has spent the bulk of the past 30 years in Illinois, including most of the last 24 at Roosevelt, Thompson is equally enthusiastic about returning to his home state and beginning his tenure at Kean. “The University is at an interesting point in its evolution, with a new, energetic president who combines deep understanding of the University and its history with high aspirations and expectations for its future,” he explained. “That is a good moment to become part of an institution. There is a lot of interesting work to be done.”
Thompson said that among the projects he plans to focus on are expanding and enhancing the Nathan Weiss Graduate College and the School of Visual and Performing Arts, as well as developing the New Jersey Center for Science and Technology Education, an endeavor close to his heart. “My scientific background, in both teaching and research, will serve me very well in helping to enhance the NJCSTE.”
The appointment of Thompson as the provost registered a positive reaction among the search committee that recommended his hire, according to Dr. Martin Shulman, chair of the committee and professor in the Department of Communication Disorders and Deafness. “I found Dr. Thompson to be genuine, personable, thoughtful, respectful, well-spoken, honest, energetic and direct,” Shulman explained. “He seems to have been through it all, and possesses a well-grounded and seasoned perspective and philosophy on problem solving and human-resources management. I viewed him as a seasoned professional who has been through experiences similar to those of the Kean community, thus preparing him to ‘hit the ground running,’ while demonstrating a commitment to collaboration and consensus building.”
Lajuana Timothy, a Kean undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree, was one of two students who served on the search committee, echoed Shulman’s affirmation of Kean’s newest administrator. “Dr. Thompson has strong leadership qualities; he’s engaging, motivated, results-oriented, and brings a student-centered focus,” explained Timothy. “He understands Kean’s mission and has a vision to strive for academic excellence. These are qualities essential to Kean’s success.”
Dr. Richard Bakker, chair of and professor in the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Health, extended a welcome to Thompson on behalf of the Faculty Senate. “I think Dr. Thompson is an excellent choice for provost,” Bakker said. “He brings the experience and enthusiasm that will help the University achieve its future academic goals. I look forward to working with him.”
Previous to being appointed to his post at Roosevelt, Thompson served the university as its associate provost from 1998 to 2000 and as the director of the School of Science and Mathematics from 1993 to 1998. Prior to that, he spent two years at the City Colleges of Chicago, culminating as the acting director of research. Thompson spent 1980 to 1995 as an assistant professor of biology at Roosevelt after a year as an adjunct instructor in natural science at Loyola University in Chicago. He began his career in higher education as an adjunct at Roosevelt from 1971 to 1973.
Before his last appointment, Thompson was also active in a number of committees at Roosevelt, serving as chair of the University Senate, the Strategic Planning Task Forces on Enrollment Management and Traditional Age Students, and the Chicago Campus Master Planning Committee. He also worked on the University Senate Executive Committee, the University Budget Committee, the University Curriculum Committee, and the University Planning Committee, in addition to others.
Thompson earned a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at the University of
Chicago, where he produced a thesis on the relationship between genetic
recombination and the rate of response to selection, as well as a Bachelor
of Arts in biology from Harvard University. Prior to that, he was the
co-valedictorian of his class at Lenape Regional High School in Medford,
N.J. He and his wife, Ruth Moscovitch, have two grown sons, Isaiah and