Following a nationwide search, Linda Thompson, DrPH, was selected in April by the University’s Board of Trustees and approved May 18 by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to serve as the 21st president of Westfield State University.
An experienced higher education and public policy leader, Dr. Thompson most recently 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.
“Based on Dr. Thompson’s credentials and wealth of experience in influential leadership and collaboration, paired with her highly engaging campus visit with Westfield State’s varied constituents, the Board voted to recommend her as the University’s next leader,” Westfield State University Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Queenin ’70 said in April.
Dr. Thompson 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.
“I am honored and thrilled for this 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,” says Dr. Thompson.
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 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 matters related to children and youth, managing an interagency budget of over $350 million.
Thompson has published more than 100 articles, books, book chapters, and abstracts. She has received numerous awards, including induction into the American Academy of Nursing, Phi Kappa Alpha, and 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.
Thompson succeeds Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D., who led Westfield State through the 2020–21 academic year.
“President Thompson assumes 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,” says Saigo.