Dr. Dorothy Perry Thompson

June 25, 1944 – Jan. 4, 2002

Dr. Dorothy Perry ThompsonDr. Dorothy Perry Thompson was Winthrop’s first faculty member hired to teach African-American courses. The professor of English also taught African-American literature, American Literature, poetry and creative writing.

Dr. Thompson received her B.A. in English from Allen University in 1968 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina in 1974. After teaching in the public high schools, including Riverside High (Greer), Lower Richland High (Hopkins) and Dreher High (Columbia), she returned to USC, where in 1987, she became the second African American in the school’s history to earn a Ph.D. in English and the first African American to complete a creative writing dissertation there, under the direction of the late poet and novelist James Dickey.

A gifted poet, Dr. Thompson wrote three collections: Fly With The Puffin – 1995; Priest in Aqua Boa – 2001; and Hurrying the Spirit: Following Zora – 2002; the anthology Out of the Rough – 2001; and numerous essays and chapters on literary topics.

Along with being a respected poet, scholar and teacher, Dr. Thompson was a beloved mentor, friend and a tireless advocate for students, ensuring that the African-American voice was heard on campus and in the greater community.

In 1990, Dr. Thompson approached the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences proposing a minor in African-American Studies. In February 1990, a committee of nine was appointed by the dean to serve on the African-American Studies Minor Committee. The committee’s charge was to explore the feasibility of designing a minor in African-American Studies. Dr. Thompson was asked to serve as chair of the committee.

At her death in January of 2002, Dr. Thompson coordinated Winthrop’s African-American Studies program and taught various courses for the Department of English. An annual colloquium is held at Winthrop in her memory.