Ron Thomson, currently the Director of the Virtual College of Texas, has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to distance learning, and the overall impact of the contributions he has made to our field is immeasurable. Throughout his distinguished 40-year career, and long before there was a field known as distance learning, Thomson was hard at work as an innovator, pushing the envelope, knee deep in collaborations, paving the way for distance learning both as a career path and mode of instructional delivery.
Many things along the way have contributed to Thomson’s success including his early experiences with computer-assisted instruction, his utilization of emerging technologies, and his ability to organize extensive collaborations. He has helped launch not one but two state-wide innovative initiatives: STARLINK and the Virtual College of Texas. He has worked diligently to develop the skills of distance learning faculty, to help colleges develop distance learning programs, and to provide quality course offerings for students in a flexible and convenient manner so that they can enroll in the courses they need at the point they need them. He has served in leadership roles with professional organizations benefiting the field including the Texas Distance Learning Association and the Texas higher Education Coordinating Board’s Distance Education Advisory Committee.
Through it all, Thomson has adhered to a philosophy that has allowed him to be successful at working with others to mold the field of distance learning, that of understanding ‘collaborating boils down to intense listening by all parties and developing actionable plans that everyone can live with, all done in a spirit of goodwill’. Speaking specifically about the Virtual College of Texas, but just as applicable to his own distinguished career, Thomson says, “It all adds up to helping make higher education more accessible to more students.”
Fortunately, for all of us, Thomson continues to conquer new challenges and opportunities to serve the distance learning community and the citizens of the state of Texas. It is with great pride that Texas Distance Learning Association salutes Ron Thomson for his visionary leadership and welcomes him into the Texas Distance Learning Hall of Fame.