New BOT member has relationship with Eastern

Chrissy Miller, Administration Reporter

The Board of Trustees will have a new member this week with the appointment of P.J. Thompson, director of alumni relations at McKendree University.

Thompson said he has been involved with Eastern in some way for most of his life, from being a graduate assistant to being an event coordinator for Alumni Services.

Despite taking on a new role as a board member, Thompson said he does not think his relationship with the university will change, besides him taking on more responsibilities.

Thompson said he was instrumental in implementing the first black alumni reunion on Eastern’s campus, which was his first experience with alumni relations.

“The best thing about the relationship I have with Eastern is the lessons that I’ve learned while I’ve been there,” he said. “Being on the Board of Trustees brings on some different responsibilities but I have a strong affinity for EIU and there’s pretty much nothing that will change that.”

Thompson said the professors at Eastern had a significant impact on the person he is. From Jeanetta Jones, who awarded him a scholarship and kept in close contact with him and the other recipients, to Karen Hartbank, a sociology professor he knew since he was 13 years old who introduced him to the department, he said his experiences with people at Eastern were positive. Thompson would eventually get his bachelor’s degree in sociology.

“Sociology is everything. We live sociology every day,” Thompson said. “There are so many things I have learned in those courses in that field of study that will apply to me being a member of the Board of Trustees.”

Thompson said that he is excited to have this position and honor his alma mater. Mona Davenport, director of Minority Affairs, said Thompson was a student at Eastern when she started working here. Davenport said Thompson’s knowledge of the institution as an employee in Alumni Services, a student and a leader helps him bring a unique perspective to being a board member.

“PJ served as a cheerleader so he is even experienced in athletics,” Davenport said. “That experience coupled with knowledge of institutional policies in the private sector will aid in his diverse experience.” Darren Hendrickson, chair of the sociology department, said he was excited to see someone from the department be on the board.

“We’re always excited to see our alumns do well and are certainly excited to have one who wants to come back and help out the institution,” Hendrickson said.


Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].