COLLEGE STATION - A Texas native who dedicated his life to education and the Texas A&M System has died.
Texas A&M and Tarleton State University both confirm Dr. Barry B. Thompson passed away.
Thompson was named Chancellor of the Texas A&M System in 1994. He served in that role until his retirement in 1999 at which time the Board of Regents named him Chancellor Emeritus.
Before taking over the Texas A&M System, Thompson led two schools that are part of the system.
Thompson served as president of West Texas A&M for four years, not far from where he grew up in Amarillo. He took over in 1990 after the West Texas State University regents voted to join the Texas A&M System instead of The University of Texas. One of his first actions was to cancel the football program. It returned the following year on a non-scholarship basis. During his tenure, the University increased education requirements and changed its name to West Texas A&M.
Prior to returning home to the Panhandle, Thompson was the President of Tarleton State University, which is also part of the Texas A&M System. The University’s current President, Dominic Dottavio, tweeted about Thompson’s death.
Thompson’s eight years at the helm of Tarleton have been called one of the “most expansive eras in Tarleton history.” He helped acquire over four million dollars in funding for the school which was often overlooked by the A&M System and the Legislature. Thompson also increased enrollment to more than 6,0000. In an effort to recruit more minorities, he personally visited schools beyond Tarleton’s immediate vicinity, asked African-American churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to establish scholarships for minorities and established the Office of Minority Affairs.