Dick Thompson retires from retirement


If Barbara Streisand and Michael Jordan can come out of retirement, so can SVSU’s Dick Thompson.

This summer, Thompson returns to the ombudsman position filled by Burk Foster three years ago after Thompson’s retirement. Foster retired at the end of the Winter 2011 semester.

Thompson was initially rumored to return as an adviser to Student Association, though University Spokesman J.J. Boehm later clarified that in addition to being SA adviser, Thompson would also fill the post of ombudsman.

Thompson said he had been planning to come back since mid-January. Though retired, he remained up to date on campus affairs by keeping in touch with President Eric Gilbertson. Gilbertson mentioned Foster was going to retire when the two saw each other during last winter break, but it was Thompson who took the initiative to “throw my hat in the ring” and offer his services to the University.

Thompson said in the past he never imagined he would return to SVSU, but despite enjoying his free time and “miss[ing] the students,” a desire to return ultimately led him to follow his own advice and come back to the office.

“Sometimes in life we wring our hands instead of acting on things. Instead of not acting upon [a desire to do something], you need to make a good, conscious decision… if you think it’s right — do it.” he said.

Even though Thompson thought he would never return, he remained open to changing his future plans.

“If you don’t think things are going to change in your life you’re going to be unprepared,” he said.

Thompson was a 38-year employee of SVSU when he retired, having been originally hired to work as an admissions representative. He held other positions such as assistant registrar, registrar, executive director of admissions, dean of students affairs. He also worked for campus life. He was a leader of the effort that started up the ombudsman position about five years ago. The ombudsman helps students with problems, conflicts or concerns.

Thompson mentioned the advantage of his age for the position.

“I am getting to be an old dog,” he said. “There will be a time when [my job] is someone else’s work.”

He doesn’t have a time table set for when he will return to retirement, but he realizes that this second stint will come to an end.

Thompson’s return to the ombudsman position “feels right” to him, and he looks forward to the opportunity to be involved again in academia.

“I’ve been around education for a long time, and it is something I enjoy a lot,” he said.