Meet Jeff Thompson

Dr. Jeffrey S. Thompson serves as the Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was appointed to the position on December 28, 2020. Dr. Thompson came to the role with extensive leadership and administrative expertise, having served as Dean of the College of Science since 2008.

In each of his administrative leadership roles, Dr. Thompson has remained devoted to advancing the reputation of the University with a focus on student success, well-being and belonging. In his current role, Dr. Thompson has championed several first-of-their-kind student-serving initiatives. In 2021, he launched the Digital Wolf Pack Initiative in partnership with Apple which has provided tools like the iPad to over 10K new students, bridging the digital divide that many face when starting college. He initiated the diversity and equity program, TechWise, with Google and TalentSprint to provide world-class training for the next generation of software engineers. In implementing the state-wide Collegiate Academy program, Dr. Thompson has helped to provide low-cost dual college credits to high school students across Nevada, kick-starting their college educations. Additionally, Dr. Thompson was instrumental in the acquisition of the University’s new campus in Incline Village ­– the Wayne L. Prim Campus at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe which is providing students with immersive learning experiences in environmental sciences, sustainability and the arts.

Dr. Thompson’s appointment as Executive Vice President and Provost came after more than a decade of service as Dean of the College of Science. During his tenure as dean, the college experienced a time of historic student achievement and faculty and staff productivity. This included record levels of enrollment, student diversity and faculty research. In 2013, he implemented ScienceFIT – a week-long bootcamp that better prepared students for the rigors of college courses and helped develop community among students before classes began. ScienceFIT was adopted University-wide as NevadaFIT, now in its 10th year. Dr. Thompson supported the growth of the Women in Science and Engineering Program and saw the college’s percentage of female students pursuing science degrees increase to over 60%. Through the diligent programmatic and personal support for first-generation and underrepresented students, Dr. Thompson also saw the college reach the highest levels of students from diverse backgrounds with those who self-identified as students of color reaching 48%. The Discover Science Lecture Series which Dr. Thompson launched in 2010 welcomed the community to campus to hear from some of the world’s top scientists while also providing unique opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with the visiting speakers.

Forever a physicist, as he often calls himself, Dr. Thompson grew up in Tennessee and attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tennessee and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado.

In 1991, he joined the faculty in the Physics Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, at which time he started a research laboratory in experimental atomic and molecular physics. A dedicated mentor, many of his students went on to illustrious careers in research and academia and have maintained deep connections to the University. He served as Physics Department Chair and Associate Dean of the College of Science before becoming Dean of the College of Science in 2008. In 2020, he was appointed to his current role, as Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Nevada, Reno.