Each Homecoming we bestow alumni awards to alumni and other PC faithful for their contributions to the College. Dr. Harold Dean Thompson, Jr., the Mary Henry and de Saussure Davis Edmunds Professor of English, is the 2018 Honorary Alumnus Award recipient. The honor recognizes someone who did not attend PC, but who has always regarded PC as his or her alma mater, and by doing so, has brought honor to the College.
Thompson, who holds his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wofford College, the University of South Carolina, and Vanderbilt University, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold D. Thompson, Sr., of Inman, SC. He has been a PC icon since he began teaching on the front steps of Neville Hall in 1988.
Whether sitting on the steps, a Neville classroom, Waffle House, or his own home, his students have been front-row observers to Thompson’s take on literature, film, writing, and life in a wide range of courses, from freshman English through Appalachian Literature to Silent Film. On three separate occasions, Thompson joined other faculty in leading the PC-at-Oxford program, traveling with students to Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford in England. He has also led Maymester trips to Ireland and Scotland, as well as to historically and culturally significant locations throughout the South.
Although he shuns the spotlight (his 1992 commencement address was entitled “Be Quiet”), Thompson has been honored throughout his career for his teaching excellence. He became the youngest educator ever to be named South Carolina Professor of the Year when he received the honor in 1992, and he has won a host of other awards, including
- Presbyterian College Distinguished Service Award
- Presbyterian College Professor of the Year
- Governor’s Distinguished Professor Award
- Mary Henry Edmunds & de Saussure Davis Edmunds Chair of English
- Phi Beta Kappa, Wofford College chapter
Thompson’s teaching has brought considerable honor to the College, and he tirelessly supports students and advocates for the College far beyond the classroom, having established the Field of Dreams Baseball Scholarship in 2004 to provide financial assistance to deserving student-athletes.
In addition, Thompson frequently travels to and speaks at admissions and alumni events, enthusiastically encouraging prospective students to become Blue Hose and PC graduates to support their alma mater.
When asked to sum up his relationship with Presbyterian College, Thompson said, “I deeply love this College, and I can only quote the opening lines of an old Rodgers and Hart song: ‘I took one look at you / That’s all I meant to do / And then my heart stood still.’”
For a list of all of this year’s award recipients, visit the Alumni Awards Recipients page.