The UT community will come together to remember and celebrate Dr. Lancelot C.A. Thompson Monday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.
Thompson, professor emeritus of chemistry and 55-year UT veteran, died Sept. 10 at age 91.
A true trailblazer, Thompson was the first African-American full-time faculty member at the University, the first black to receive tenure, one of the first four recipients of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the first African-American vice president, and the first person to hold the post of vice president for student affairs.
The native of Jamaica joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1958. He was promoted to associate professor in 1962 and was named assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1964, the same year he won the University’s Outstanding Teacher Award. Two years later, Thompson was appointed dean of student services. In 1967, he was promoted to professor, and in 1968, he became vice president for student affairs, the position he retired from in 1988, when he was named professor emeritus.
As vice president for student affairs, Thompson coordinated activities of more than a dozen offices — student activities, housing, financial aid, discipline, international students, placement, the Student Union, Counseling Center, minority affairs, Testing Center, health services, the Interfraternity and PanHellenic councils, and intramurals and recreation.
“Lance’s mark on The University of Toledo and in particular on the Division of Student Affairs was immeasurable,” said Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs. “He was a true student services professional who gave us a blueprint for service and optimism and dedication.”
A track star in college and a cricket player, Thompson’s passion for athletics continued when he arrived in Toledo. Without a budget or a bag, he organized and became the unpaid coach of UT track in 1960. When track became a varsity sport, he organized a soccer team.
“Over the years, Lance was an adviser, a mentor and, most of all, a friend to many of our student-athletes. The wisdom and guidance Lance provided played an important role in their lives,” said Mike O’Brien, UT vice president and athletic director.
To inspire the next generation of college students, Thompson helped organize UT’s annual Aspiring Minorities Youth Conference. And the Toledo resident continued to mentor UT students throughout his life.
In addition, he cared about the community. Thompson served on the executive committee of the Bridge Inc., the Toledo Health Planning Association Board, the Toledo Development Committee, and the board of trustees of the Neighborhood Health Association. In addition, he served on the Toledo Labor Management Citizens Committee, the board of trustees for the Better Business Bureau, Connecting Point, and the board of directors of the American Red Cross. A member of Kiwanis International since 1971, he served as president.
A member of the American Chemical Society and chair of the Toledo section in 1965, Thompson was a member of Sigma Xi chemistry honorary, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity.
He received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Morgan State University in 1952 and a doctoral degree in chemistry from Wayne State University in 1956.
In 2014, the Dr. Lancelot C.A. Thompson Meeting Room was dedicated in his honor in the Student Union.
Thompson’s passion was helping students. In 2014, he said, “If anything is said about me, just let it be that I cared about people, especially students, so they had all the help available to them.”