The Mississippi Business Journalrecognized Dr. Blake Thompson, president of Mississippi College, as one of Mississippi’s Top CEOs for 2021.
The publication honored the most influential business leaders in Mississippi, recognizing their significant impacts in their companies or organizations and in their fields. Thompson and 27 other honorees from around the state were celebrated at a luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn on May 27.
“I’m honored to be selected for this recognition, but any credit for my success at Mississippi College goes first to the MC community,” Thompson said. “We have an amazing faculty and staff, as well as an outstanding community of students, families, alumni, and friends. Their commitment to academic excellence and to our Christian faith are what make Mississippi College unique in the world of higher education. Together, we’re building on our success to continue MC’s rise.”
Thompson was chosen to lead MC in 2018 and was inaugurated as the university’s 20th president under the theme “animate.” He’s lived up to that billing, becoming known for his limitless energy and the sense of excitement he’s fostered at the state’s oldest university.
“When he was selected in 2018, Dr. Thompson was the youngest of 36 applicants for the role of president of MC,” said Bill Sones, chairman of the university’s board of trustees. “We were impressed not only with his resume, but with his views and his vitality. After seeing how he interacts with the students, there is no doubt at all that MC made the right decision. Dr. Thompson loves MC’s students, and they love him.”
Under Thompson’s leadership, MC has established an Honors College, expanded its international programs, and enhanced its physical campus, most notably a new on-campus Chick-Fil-A. Thompson led the university through the COVID-19 pandemic under the rallying cry “Strong and Courageous.” Where so many universities moved to virtual learning for the 2020-21 academic year, MC’s campus remained open for in-person instruction. During the social unrest of 2020, MC issued a statement emphasizing the university’s support of its community members of color, and Thompson personally called for the state of Mississippi to adopt a new state flag that no longer included a Confederate battle emblem.
On the national level, Thompson serves on the NCAA Presidents Council, Division II’s sports highest governing body.
Thompson was previously vice president of The Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country. In his career, he has held a vice president appointment with Batelle, the world’s leading nonprofit R&D organization. He has also served in Washington as a senior staffer to the Senate Appropriations Committee and late Senator Thad Cochran. Thompson is a three-time graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and was named the school’s 2021 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He also holds a master’s degree from the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.
Thompson and his wife, Jana, met as children in vacation Bible school in their hometown of Rienzi, Mississippi. They have three children, Grey, Sarah Blake, and Cate, and a dog, Millie Catherine (affectionately known as “M.C.”). Thompson is known for his love of barbecue and Elvis Presley music and is frequently seen around campus on his sporty golf cart.
Four Mississippi College alumni were also named to the 2021 Top CEO list. Thompson shared the honor with Jonathan Hollingshead ‘01, president of Business Communication, Inc.; Teresa Malone ’93, executive director of the Mississippi Nurses Association; D. Michael Heindel ’97, president of Northwest Mississippi Community College; and Dwanna Stanley ’09, owner of The Agency Real Estate Services.
“I’m honored to be recognized alongside these four MC graduates,” Thompson said. “That we have four alumni named to the list of our state’s top CEOs says so much about the value of an MC education and our university’s role in preparing students for leadership positions. I’m confident our current student body includes the next generation of our state’s leaders, and I’m looking forward to seeing their names on future editions of the Top CEOs list.”