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Thompson Named WIU Geography Chair

January 21, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - Sam Thompson, an associate professor of geography and acting chair of the geography department at Western Illinois University since Jan. 2, 2008, has been appointed department chair, effective Jan. 1, according to College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Inessa Levi.

"Sam's teaching, research and service record to his department, the college and the University, coupled with his last 12 months of experience as acting chairperson, made him the ideal candidate to fill this important role," said Levi. "The Department of Geography's baccalaureate major in meteorology is one of the fastest growing in the college. The department's GIS Center is an important part of our regional service goals. I am delighted that we have someone of Sam's caliber to ensure these programs, as well as the department's other programs, continue to thrive and grow."

Thompson had served as the department's graduate program coordinator since he joined Western's faculty in 2002. In this capacity he oversaw graduate admissions, coordinated the awarding of assistantships and contracts and performed numerous administrative duties. He has been involved in administrative decisions through departmental planning processes in the graduate and undergraduate programs. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in geography, and he has served on departmental and college committees.

"It is an honor and privilege to be selected as chair by the faculty in the department of geography and Dean Levi," Thompson said. "As chair, I will continue to build on the standards and qualities established by my predecessor in the realm of excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. With a diverse and highly qualified faculty, I look forward to carrying on our traditional commitment to teaching and developing lifelong learners."

Thompson's research interests include studying enterprise zone programs as a planning tool for community development and planning process techniques, particularly planning with people. His most recent publication explores using consensus to create a true community design. Thompson is exploring the role of planning and infrastructure development in bringing about economic revitalization in midsized and small cities and towns.

"I am proud to work with faculty members who dedicate a substantial amount of time involving students in their research," Thompson said. "I look forward to continued enhancement and expansion of our signature program in meteorology, which is one of the most popular degree programs at WIU. I will continue to support the GIS Center, which is an integral part of the geography department. As the GIS Center provides first-hand project experience for graduate and undergraduate students, I am energized to expand this working arrangement under my leadership. I will work with faculty and staff to enhance the department academic brand, and strengthen our ties to students, the college, the University and the community."

Content provided by Jeff Dodd, College of Fine Arts

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