Modern Visionary Inspires Masses with Presence

Courtesy of Wayne Dunwoody

As the celebration of Black History Month continue at Florida A&M University, the Rattlers welcomed alumnus and Microsoft CEO John Thompson back to his alma mater Monday morning.

For Thompson, hordes of dapper-down scholars waited outside the doors of Lee Hall  at FAMU for a chance to hear him speak.

The event, A Conversation with John Thompson, drew hundreds of students, faculty, alumni and visitors.

“Focus and humility,” he said, were the driving forces behind his greatest achievements, a point he emphasized to the many business students hanging on his words.

An alumnus of FAMU, Thompson and his wife Sandi chose to invest in his alma mater with the largest single donation the university has seen. The $5 million, doled out in $1 million per year increments, went to the School of Business and Industry to promote entrepreneurship for students.

“It’s the first time I’d ever made a gift of that size and I want to make sure I understood how the university is going to use it,” Thompson explained.

Seventy percent of the funds went to the new entrepreneurship program, the Interdisciplinary Center for Creativity and Innovation, which will be holding it’s ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow morning.

“I’m looking forward to that, greatly,” Thompson pleasingly stated.

The other 30 percent of the funds will go toward scholarships for the “kids who are performing well,” he added.

FAMU president Elmira Mangum sat in the ‘reporter’s seat’ during the lecture event, asking Thompson questions ranging from workplace diversity to preparing students for graduation.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the community as well as our students and faculty to see a humble man that is such a giant in business and industry coming out of Florida A&M University,” Mangum stated after the event.

As the chairman of Microsoft, Thompson leads one of the world’s most accomplished software companies. Succeeding the likes of Bill Gates has placed him in a position of great influence.

For former journalism student, Kyle Washington, he believed Thompson’s presence provided inspiration to many of the current students.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for our students to see someone of this magnitude come here that have walked the same halls as them, have been in the same position; it’s an amazing opportunity.”