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11/16/2023 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning completed its search for the 13th President of Jackson State University by voting to name Dr. Marcus L. Thompson as President during its meeting held today in Jackson.

Dr. Marcus L. Thompson
Dr. Marcus L. Thompson

Dr. Thompson has more than 20 years of leadership experience in early childhood, K-12 education, and higher education. Thompson serves as the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), Mississippi’s public university system, where for over a decade he has been responsible for overseeing IHL staff. In this role, all senior-level leaders report to him, and he manages all facets of day-to-day operations of the agency, including IHL Board relations, communications, legislation, technology, data management, and facilities.

"The Board selected a leader who knows the unique historic importance of the university who will articulate a bold vision for the future and will be indefatigable in the pursuit of excellence for Jackson State University," said Trustee Dr. Steven Cunningham, chair of the Board Search Committee.

Thompson serves as a liaison between the IHL Commissioner’s Office; the IHL Board of Trustees; and Mississippi’s eight public universities – Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Over the past 15 years in higher education, Marcus has advised the IHL Board of Trustees, the IHL Commissioner, and Mississippi’s public university senior leadership and institutional executive officers.

"I’m very honored to be named President of Jackson State University because I believe in its mission, purpose and most of all, the outstanding faculty, staff, alumni and students who embody our school’s motto of challenging minds, changing lives," said Dr. Marcus L. Thompson. "I look forward to working closely with all of them to develop a consensus about strategic goals and objectives we can achieve by working together."

"I can’t think of a leader in Mississippi who has invested more time and thought regarding the issues at Jackson State than my friend Marcus Thompson," said Dr. Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former interim president at Jackson State University. "He is one of the only people I can think of who has a full comprehension of the history, trajectory, strength, vulnerabilities and basic needs of the university. I cannot think of an individual who could be more involved and have more connections with the people pertinent to the university than him. I think IHL has made a wise choice in making Marcus Thompson president, and I’m very proud that he will take advantage of this opportunity."

As Deputy Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer, Thompson led the formation of the IHL ADA/Accessibility Services Task Force which was launched to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to thrive within the university system. The task force includes representatives from the eight public universities, the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration and the IHL System Office.

Thompson also leads the IHL Board of Trustees’ efforts to encourage diverse campus environments and to ensure that all aspects of institutional practice affirm the IHL Board’s commitment to access and success, with particular attention to heightening participation and achievement of underrepresented individuals.

Thompson is a former educator and administrator, serving private schools and public schools in the Jackson Public School District and the Copiah County School District, where he enjoyed and excelled at one-on-one student interactions the classroom provided. He has held endorsements to teach elementary education and licenses to teach English, history, mathematics, and Spanish. He ultimately left the classroom and joined the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to have a broader impact on students across the state. At MDE, he became Chief of Staff and Assistant to the State Superintendent of Education.

"We are appreciative of the time and energy the IHL Board and search committee put into this presidential search," said Patrease Edwards, President of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association. "The JSUNAA will support Dr. Thompson and his administration. We are hopeful that he will be a capable administrator with the ability to bring stakeholders together to achieve common goals. His leadership and vision to secure resources, philanthropic support and business partnerships for JSU will be key and a catalyst for the growth and continued success of the university."

Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and Spanish and a Master’s degree in Education from Mississippi College. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Jackson State University in urban higher education. Thompson is married to LaToya Redd Thompson, a practicing attorney. They are the proud parents of Kaelyn, Jessica, and Marcus, Jr.

"Marcus Thompson has a deep understanding of the vital role HBCUs play in higher education," said Senator Sollie Norwood. "His proven leadership will serve him well in taking Jackson State University to new heights."

Thompson’s appointment as the 13th President of Jackson State University will be effective November 27, 2023. A welcome reception to introduce Dr. Thompson to the campus will be scheduled at a later date.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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