The UI Board of Trustees recognized former board secretary Michele M. Thompson for her distinguished service to the university at its March 15 meeting in Urbana.
Thompson, who retired in January after more than 20 years as secretary to the board, was awarded the Trustees' Distinguished Service Medallion. The medallion recognizes people who have significantly contributed to the growth and development of the university through their extraordinary service or support.
In a resolution, the board said Thompson "served the university with distinction for more than three decades, and her unending integrity, grace and loyalty advanced our richly deserved standing as a world leader in education, innovation and service to society."
Thompson began her university career in 1977 as assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs on the Urbana campus. She later held positions in the Office of the President, where she was responsible for developing employment policies and initiatives such as long-range energy planning.
During those years, she also played a key role in university history, serving as chief of staff for the committee that recommended consolidation of the university's two Chicago campuses. The merger was approved in 1981, and created the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Thompson began her appointment as secretary of the UI Board of Trustees and the university in 1990 and she served until retiring on Jan. 31. As secretary, her duties included supporting the board and administration in their governance of the university, interpreting board policy to the public, acting as the university's official record keeper, and as an adviser to the president.
Past medallion recipients include former university President James J. Stukel; entrepreneur Mannie Jackson, a UI graduate and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters; physics professor Anthony J. Leggett, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics; and business leader and philanthropist Thomas M. Siebel, a UI alumnus.