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WSSU Mourns the Loss of Dr. Cleon Thompson

Dear WSSU family,

Dr. Thompson's legacy is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our university. During his tenure, he demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence, leaving an indelible mark on various facets of our academic community. His efforts were pivotal in elevating our reputation as a strong academic institution, and his influence extended far beyond his term in office.

Under Dr. Thompson's guidance, Winston-Salem State University experienced significant growth and advancement. With a commitment to academic excellence, his administration invested strategically and intentionally in the recruitment of high-quality faculty members who became the backbone not only of our academic community but also of the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County community. Their contributions enriched teaching and research on our campus as well as shaped the intellectual landscape of our university.

Dr. Thompson's dedication to academic excellence was further reflected in his initiatives to enhance standards for undergraduate student admission requirements. By raising the bar for admission, he ensured that our student body was composed of individuals who were not only academically inclined but also committed to the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth.

He was also committed to the revitalization of the School of Nursing where he breathed new life into the unit, positioning it as a cornerstone of excellence in healthcare education. Dr. Thompson was also a champion of undergraduate research, recognizing its pivotal role in fostering innovation and critical thinking among our students. Under his guidance, Winston-Salem State University focused much more purposefully on empowering our undergraduates to contribute meaningfully to their respective fields of study.

Beyond the confines of our campus, Dr. Thompson worked tirelessly to establish partnerships with private organizations, government entities, and fellow universities. These collaborations enriched our academic programs and positioned Winston-Salem State University as a key player in the broader academic and research community.

Dr. Cleon F. Thompson

“Dr. Thompson was a revered leader in our state’s public higher education system, serving on UNC President William Friday’s early leadership team, as interim chancellor at North Carolina A&T, and during his decade long chancellorship at Winston-Salem State,” said UNC System President Peter Hans. “He was a trailblazer, a leader who envisioned great possibilities and worked to achieve them. I join everyone in the Ram family in mourning his loss.”

As we mourn the loss of a visionary and transformative leader, let us remember Dr. Cleon F. Thompson for the enduring legacy he leaves behind. His impact on our university will be felt for generations to come. In honoring his memory, let us continue to strive for excellence in all our academic pursuits and uphold the values that Dr. Thompson held dear.

To honor Dr. Thompson’s legacy, flag will be flown at half-staff on campus.

Details regarding memorial services and opportunities to share condolences will be communicated in the coming days. In the interim, let us join together in remembering and celebrating the life of a remarkable leader, mentor, and friend who transformed the very fabric of our beloved Winston-Salem State University.


Anthony Graham, Ph.D.
Interim Chancellor


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