Eastern Shore Educational Icons Honored by Sojourner-Douglass
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-July 14, 2010-Sojourner-Douglass College in Baltimore awarded Dr. Thelma B. Thompson, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and William T. Middleton III, former superintendent for Wicomico County Public Schools, with honorary degrees during the college’s 30th commencement exercises.
Thompson and Middleton were conferred the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree by the university’s president and founder, Dr. Charles W. Simmons, and the Board of Directors. According to college officials, the degree has been awarded since 1983 to people whose work fits into the mission of the college.
“Dr. Thompson was selected on the recommendation of our faculty and staff, many of whom met her during a “Women in Higher Education” conference,” said Provost Marian Stanton, Ph.D. “Our college enrollment consists of 80 percent women. It provides inspiration to introduce them to women, such as Dr. Thompson, who are successful and are community oriented.”
A cum laude graduate, Thompson holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Howard University, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and received the coveted Terminal Fellowship Award. She also holds a diploma from Bethlehem College, Jamaica, and a certificate from London University.
Among her many honors and accolades, Thompson was conferred the Doctor of Literature and Philosophy honorary degree last fall from Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science in South Africa. She is considered to be an expert in accountability and accreditations and has been instrumental in over 20 programs at UMES receiving initial accreditation. Under her leadership, graduate enrollment is the highest it has ever been and, so too is fundraising. U.S. News & World Report for the past three years has listed UMES as being in the top tier of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“I was honored to receive this degree from such a fine institution,” said Thompson. “Unlike UMES, the average student at Sojourner-Douglass is seeking an advanced degree during their mature years-many of which have raised or are currently raising a family. The college’s mission to educate and motivate this special segment of African-Americans inspired me. What Sojourner-Douglass is doing is commendable.”
Sojourner-Douglass College is the only private, predominately African-American, degree granting college in Maryland. In addition to the main campus at Baltimore, there are satellite campuses in Annapolis, Cambridge, Salisbury, Prince George’s County and Owings Mills.
“Mr. Middleton was so supportive of Sojourner-Douglass when the college came to the Eastern Shore and like Dr. Thompson, is a person that demonstrates his caring attitude toward people and the community,” said Stanton.
A career educator of some 40 years, Middleton developed and refined strategies that raised student achievement. He embraced the Even Start Program that offered educational opportunities to homeless families and students needing their GED diplomas, initiated the Judy Center and year-round school programs, and endorsed programs that helped minority students complete their requirements for teacher certification and secure employment as teachers.
After his retirement, he served as the Executive Director of O.U.R. Community Inc., and was a founder and president of the advisory board of the Salisbury Horizons Student Enrichment Program.
Middleton, a native of Pittsville, received an Associate of Arts in business administration from Salisbury State College and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business education from the University of Maryland College Park. Among his many awards, he was honored by UMCP as one of its Distinguished Alumni.
R. Donahue Peebles, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the nation, was the commencement speaker and was also conferred a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. Peebles is the owner, chairman and CEO of the largest African-American real estate development companies, The Peebles Corporation, with a multi-billion dollar development portfolio of properties in Washington, Las Vegas and Miami Beach. Peebles is a motivational speaker and top-selling author and serves as a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs. His commencement address encouraged students to pursue entrepreneurship as a career.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, email@example.com.