Dr. Maria Thompson
Coppin State University
Dr. Maria Thompson was drawn to higher education thanks to growing up in a family of educators that included her paternal grandmother, both parents and her oldest sister.
She has served as State University of New York’s provost and vice president for academic affairs and spent 13 years at Tennessee State University in various positions in research administration. In 2010, the National Science Foundation awarded her $1 million to create Tennessee State’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Research Institute to provide a home for exploration in advanced scientific visualization, smart sensor networking, and materials science and engineering.
Named president of Coppin State University in 2015, Thompson came on during a stressful time for the higher education facility, which had financial struggles and low graduation rates. During her tenure, Thompson has worked to make sure audits are clean and the institution remains on track by using data to drive the decision-making process.
Her favorite part of being president is the ability to interact with the students.
At the end of June, Thompson is stepping down as president in order to return to Nashville after getting married in December and recovering from a recent cancer battle.
“I hope that I have continued the legacy of our namesake, Fannie Jackson Coppin,” she said. “That is a legacy of academic excellence, intellectual curiosity and community engagement.”