Dr. Larry R. Thompson, President, Ringling College of Art and Design
Shattering the Myth of the Starving Artist! 

Dr. Larry R. Thompson is currently serving his 15th year as president of Ringling College of Art and Design. An energetic, innovative, and visionary community leader, Dr. Thompson is on a mission to transform art and design higher education and to infuse business with creativity – Shattering the Myth of the Starving Artist™. He is passionate about the extraordinary potential that art, design, and creativity have on our global economy and its influence on our lives, our work, and our entire world!

During his tenure as president of Ringling College, he has worked tirelessly to infuse his spirit of inclusion throughout the institution by celebrating diversity, encouraging freedom of expression, supporting new ways of teaching and learning, and encouraging risk-taking to innovate and enhance the overall teaching and learning experience.

Aside from his “full-time” job, Larry is involved in myriad volunteer endeavors. He is Vice-Chair of the President’s Council of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF). He serves on the Boards of the International Association of Innovation Professionals (IAOIP) and StudioVox. He is past Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD.)

Locally, he is President of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and is a board member of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Community Health Corporation for Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the Sarasota Season of Sculpture, Science and Environment Council of Sarasota County (SEC), YEA Arts!, the Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy, as well as the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County Partners Council. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Circle of Community Partnership.

Prior to joining Ringling College, Thompson was President and CEO of the Flint Culture Center in Michigan—a 30-acre campus encompassing the nine leading cultural institutions of the Greater Flint Area. He served in that capacity from 1993-1999. 

Before crossing the lake to Michigan, he was founding Director and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, a post he held for four years. Thompson was responsible for making the Hall of Fame a reality, including raising money for it, working with architect I.M. Pei to design it, and preparing it to be constructed.

In his earlier career, Thompson served for seven years as Special Assistant to the President of The Ohio State University. His responsibilities involved working on legal issues affecting the University and serving as a management troubleshooter for various administrative departments.

Thompson is a lawyer and an educator. He earned his Juris Doctorate summa cum laude from 
 The Ohio State University and practiced law for a number of years with a large firm in Columbus. 
 He holds a Master of Science in Educational Administration and Counseling from California State University Los Angeles. He was an adjunct professor in the Honors department at the University of Michigan-Flint, and taught as an adjunct professor in the College of Law at Ohio State for six years.

Thompson has received many honors and awards, including the 2012 Boundary Crosser Award from SCOPE (Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence.) In 2009 he was inducted into the Community Video Archives and received The Schoenbaum Humanitarian Award from the Salvation Army.

Creative Tampa Bay named him a “Creative Catalyst” in 2008, while The Wellness Community of Southwest Florida honored him with the Stephen H. Goldman, M.D., Keystone Award.

In 2007 he received the Civic Achievement Award from the West Coast Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Arts Leadership Award from the Sarasota Arts Council, and was one of three finalists in Tampa Bay CEO magazine’s “Tampa Bay CEO of the Year.” 

Arts Management News recognized Thompson as Arts Administrator of the Year in 1998 for exemplary and distinguished work in the field of arts administration. He is a recipient of the Friend of Education Award by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for outstanding endeavors in support of education, the National Association of College University Attorneys Fellow award for exemplary service on behalf of college and university clients, and the Person of Vision Award presented by the Board of Governors of Prevent Blindness Florida.