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Westfield State’s appointment of Dr. Linda Thompson as its 21st president approved by Mass. BHE

Westfield State University’s selection of higher education and public policy leader Linda Thompson, DrPH, to serve as the University’s 21st president was approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education on May 18. Thompson is slated to begin her presidency July 1, 2021. 

“We thank the Board of Higher Education for its swift approval to endorse our selection on April 28 of Dr. Thompson to serve as the Westfield State’s next leader,” said Westfield State University Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Queenin. 

Thompson has served as dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Boston since 2017 and previously held a similar position at West Chester University (Pa.). At both institutions, she developed and implemented a comprehensive five-year strategic plan to increase enrollment, expand partnerships and academic programs, secure funding, and increase diversity among students and faculty. 

“I am honored and thrilled for this upcoming opportunity to work with faculty and staff at Westfield State University to elevate its student-centered mission and make it one of the best regional universities in the country, ” said Dr. Thompson. 

She has taught nursing and public health throughout her career at 10 different colleges and universities. Her administrative experience includes appointments as provost and vice chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University, dean of nursing at Oakland University (Mich.), and associate dean at University of Maryland School of Nursing. 

Her extensive experience in public service includes serving as director of Occupational Medicine and Safety in Baltimore, where she developed programs and policies to promote the health of the city’s workforce. At the state level, she served as special secretary for Children, Youth, and Families in Maryland. There, she developed programs and policies to improve the quality of care for vulnerable populations of children. Many of these programs have been duplicated through her advisory and consulting roles in Brazil, China, India, Korea, and the Caribbean. She was the chief policy advisor to the governor of Maryland on all children and youth matters, managing an interagency budget of over $350 million. 

Thompson has published more than 100 articles, books, book chapters, and abstracts. Two books have been recognized: Losing control: Loving a Black Child with Bipolar Disorder by the American Sociologic Association; and Hard Times, Healing Hands by EdPress. She has received numerous awards, including induction into the American Academy of Nursing, Phi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Xi, and was an invited participant in the White House Conference on Childcare and as the White House Delegate to Brazil. 

She earned both BSN and MSN degrees at Wayne State University (Mich.) and master’s and doctoral degrees in public health from The Johns Hopkins University. 

“In addition to looking forward to welcoming Dr. Thompson as Westfield State’s next leader, I offer sincere thanks to the hardworking and thoughtful members of the Presidential Search Committee for their invaluable role in this important selection process,” said Robert Martin, Ph.D., Westfield State University trustee and chair of the University’s Presidential Search Committee. 

Thompson will succeed Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D., who has led Westfield State through the 2020–2021 academic year.

“President-elect Thompson will assume the presidency at an important time in the University’s history when the campus community has a renewed and strengthened focus on Westfield State’s founding values. With today’s unique challenges facing higher education, our students, faculty, and staff will benefit greatly from Dr. Thompson’s compassionate leadership and vast experience as a higher education administrator and public policy advocate,” said Saigo.