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David P. Thompson
David P. Thompson

UTSA Spotlight: David P. Thompson, Outstanding Aggie alumnus and proud UTSA Roadrunner

By Cindy Brockwell
Special Projects Writer

(Dec. 16, 2008)--Professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, David P. Thompson is a proud UTSA Roadrunner. But, he also was named one of the 2008 Outstanding Alumni of the Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development. He received the award at an Oct. 9 awards celebration in College Station.

Born in Madison, Wis., and raised in the rural community of Cambridge, Wis., Thompson and his family moved to Texas in 1977. His native Texan friends have bestowed on him the title of "Naturalized Texan." It's a title he wears with pride.

Growing up, he always enjoyed school. He liked learning, spending time with fellow students and the activities associated with school. So, as an undergraduate student at Texas A&M, he realized that he wanted to stay in school forever -- as a teacher.

He earned his bachelor's degree from A&M in 1984, following up with a master's, then a doctoral degree in 1993 -- all from Texas A&M.

Thompson is in his 21st year in public education. He taught math, coached golf and served as a high school assistant principal in two Texas school districts --Spring ISD near Houston and Lamar Consolidated ISD in the Richmond-Rosenberg area.

Thompson was working on his master's degree in educational administration from TAMU when he decided he really, really enjoyed the university -- so much so that he decided to pursue a career in higher education.

After spending three years as a high school assistant principal in Spring ISD, he joined the faculty of the Department of Educational Administration at Texas A&M University - Commerce in 1994. He taught there for six years and was department head during his last three years at TAMU - Commerce.

That's when UTSA Professor Alan Shoho contacted him about a faculty opening at UTSA. Impressed with UTSA's energy and growth potential, Thompson joined UTSA's faculty in fall 2000. The move also put him and his wife closer to their respective families. The move to UTSA was a good one. He continues to be impressed with his outstanding colleagues and great students.

"I love UTSA students. I also loved teaching high school. Students that age are so open -- they tell you what they think," he said.

What advice does he give to students who want to become educators? "The first year of teaching is a real challenge," he said. "But, once you get through that first year -- there's nothing as rewarding. You have an important opportunity to be a positive influence in someone's life."

Thompson sincerely believes that there is no job more important than teaching. To emphasize the point, he added, "I can still name every teacher I ever had and the subject they taught," he said.

His research at UTSA focuses on school law. Although he is not an attorney, he became interested in legal issues while an assistant principal responsible for discipline. Student rights intrigue him, especially the first amendment as it relates to student religious expression in public schools.

Congratulations go to David Thompson on the recent honor from his alma mater.

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Fun Facts: David Thompson's Favorites

  • Movies: "The Sound of Music," "The Music Man," "Patriot Games"
  • Music: Chicago, Creed, Steely Dan, Rush, Paul Carrack, classical and jazz
  • Leisure-reading authors: Tom Clancy, John Grisham
  • Pastime: family and golf (when he has a chance)
  • High school friends would remember him as: a decent golfer and a serious person

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