Dr. Alton Thompson is 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 on developing regional/multistate and national research priorities, and implementing a regional response for the 1890 region. In addition, Thompson promotes, articulates and advocates the priorities of the 1890 regional research agenda within the national framework of USDA- 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 and private appropriation of funds for 1890 regional/multistate research and the long-term direction of traditional and developing 1890 university initiatives.
Prior to joining ARD in August 2016, Thompson served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Delaware State University for seven years; a tenured professor and dean and executive director for Agricultural Programs in the College 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. He earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina Central University and his master’s and doctorate from The Ohio State University.
Dr. Thompson’s 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 $15 million in extra-mural research funds.
Thompson was inducted into the George Washington Carver Hall Public Service Hall of Fame in 2020 and the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture 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. He currently serves on the board of directors of Carolina Farm Credit, Food Systems Leadership Institute, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the North Carolina Foundation for Soil & Water Conservation, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center, and 1890 Universities Foundation.