Ex Officio Member
Aaron Thompson of Richmond is president of the Kentucky Council
on Postsecondary Education. He is a nationally recognized leader in higher
education who is working to ensure that all
Kentuckians have an equal opportunity to improve their lives through
first-hand the transformative power of a college credential, and he considers it his life’s mission to help the Commonwealth
achieve prosperity through education. The son of an illiterate coal miner
and a mother who attained only an 8th-grade education, he went on to become a
first-generation high school and college graduate.
His leadership experience spans 27 years across higher
education, business and numerous nonprofit boards. Thompson has researched,
taught and consulted in areas of diversity, leadership, ethics, multicultural
families, race and ethnic relations, student success, first-year students,
retention, cultural competence and organizational design throughout his career.
Thompson was named president of the Council On Postsecondary
Education in 2018 after serving for four years as senior vice president for
academic affairs and for five years as executive vice president.
He spent 21 years as a professor at Eastern Kentucky
University, then served the school for four years as associate vice president
for academic affairs. He also served as interim president of Kentucky State
University for one year.
He has authored or co-authored numerous books and
peer-reviewed publications on diversity, cultural competence, first-year
experience programs, retention and student success, among other topics. He was
inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2019.
Thompson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and
sociology from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s degree and a
doctorate in sociology from the University of Kentucky.
He is a graduate of
Clay County High School.
Thompson’s term does
KBE SPOTLIGHT: Aaron Thompson believes every child should have the chance to learn
Aaron Thompson, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education and an ex officio member of the Kentucky Board of Education, knows the value of a good education. He was the first in his family to graduate high school and college. During his time on the state board, Thompson says he would like to make real progress on the state’s persistent achievement gap.
Photo by Marvin Young, Feb. 15, 2020