Dr. Larry R. Thompson
Celebrating 20 years with Dr. Larry R. Thompson as President of Ringling College

“We aren’t happy to be one of the best. We want to be the preeminent college of art and design.”

These are words every member of the Ringling College of Art and Design community has heard since Dr. Larry R. Thompson stepped into the role of President twenty years ago. In recent years, his affirmation has been modified to reflect that, while our goal remains, “we are on a very, very fast track to get there.”

And we are. Follow our 20-year pathway to preeminence under the leadership of Dr. Thompson, punctuated by milestones such as boundary-pushing new majors, record-breaking enrollment, and more than a couple of firsts for the region. It has been a wild and winding road to excellence, and it is all due to the tireless work of our growing faculty and staff and the man with the vision that leads straight to the top. 


1999

Dr. Larry R. Thompson has arrived—and campus will never be the same.


 2003

Exterior of Ann + Alfred Goldstein Center at Ringling College.

The IT department finds a new home in the new Ann + Alfred Goldstein Center.


2005

Heck YEA! The Youth Experiencing Arts Program partners with us to bring Ringling students into middle schools around Sarasota and infuse art into the classroom.


2006

The Ulla Searing Student Center at Ringling College.

The Ulla Searing Student Center (our first 5-story building) opens its doors to house Student Life, Computer Animation, and student housing.


Ringling College turns 75 years young.


We acquired the Shell Gas Station adjacent to the College at North Tamiami Trail and Martin Luther King Jr. Way where we created a Sculpture Garden and room for additional parking.


Ringling School of Art and Design? Nope, we’re now Ringling College of Art + Design.


2007

Pretty big year for us! We launched three new majors: Film, Advertising Design, and Game Art.


The old Ringling School logo next to the new Ringling College logo.

A new name deserves a new logo! This year we introduced the iconic golden rectangle into our logo, which houses an ever-changing combination of colors and variables and represents the many voices and identities that comprise the Ringling College community.


The historic Sarasota High School building.

We partnered with the Sarasota Museum of Art! Together, we will repurpose the historic Sarasota High School to house a world-class contemporary art museum and offer continuing education.


2008

Who will manage all these creatives? Enter the new Business of Art + Design major and minor—the world’s first business program at an art school.


In an act of extraordinary generosity, Dr. Richard + Barbara Basch give us their famed glass collection featuring artists such as Dale Chihuly and Lino Tagliapietra.


Keating Center gets a makeover, bringing the first floor back to the historical roots of the building to house the Office of the President and the Office for Advancement.


2009

Ann + Alfred Goldstein Residence Hall opens! It is a new home for student housing, Mail Services, and the Fishbowl.


The Larry R. Thompson Academic Center at Ringling College.

The Academic Center opens, bringing with it 5 floors of classrooms, the Richard + Barbara Basch Gallery, the Willis Smith Galleries, the Harold + Ronald Kendall Atrium, the Design Center, and the Morganroth Auditorium.


For a College that never stops, it just made sense to add Motion Design as a new major.


We joined the ranks of 91 esteemed colleges admitted to the Davis United World College Scholarship Program.


2010

Ringling College student using film equipment.

We partnered with Semkhor Productions to start the Ringling College Studio Labs.


Logo for Madeby Gallery.

Want to purchase the work of our students, faculty, or grads? So did we, which is why we started Madeby Gallery.


Sarasota County awarded us a $1.75 million grant toward building the post-production facility. 


 2011

The Arland and Sally Christ-Janer Center.

We completed some major projects this year: renovating the Christ-Janer building to include a new gallery and completing the repurposing of the West Marine building (acquired by us in 2010) into the North Studios, creating 50 studios for Illustration and Fine Arts seniors and storage for the Film program.


2012

The Ringling College Student Health Center.

Salud! A healthy campus means healthy students, so we partnered with Sarasota Memorial Hospital to provide health services for students on campus. We also opened the new Health Services building with space for the Peterson Counseling Center and medical care.


2014

The logo for the PINC conference.

We partnered with PINC (People, Innovation, Nature, and Creativity) Sarasota to bring a day of crazy cool creative speakers to the city once a year.


Our motto is official. We trademarked “Shattering the Myth of the Starving Artist!”


We launched the Collaboratory in partner-ship with The Patterson Foundation! The Collaboratory is an initiative that provides creative, experiential learning opportunities to all of its students.


2015

The first year we implemented the Collaboratory Commitment, guaranteeing all students the chance to work with real-world clients on real-world projects before graduation.


Keating Center is renovated again to create offices for Academic Affairs.


2016

We welcome our newest majors, Creative Writing and Visual Studies.


We turned 85!


Unveiling of the named Larry R. Thompson Academic Center.

The Board of Trustees names the Academic Center the Larry R. Thompson Academic Center in honor of the man with the plan.


Introduced the Cross College Alliance, a consortium with New College of Florida; State College of Florida; University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee; Ringling College of Art and Design; and Florida State University, through The Ringling Museum, that enhances our collective learning and teaching experiences with support from local foundations.


We headed to South Korea for our first Accepted Student Day in Seoul!


2017

The Alfred R. Goldstein Library at Ringling College.

The library of the future is now open! Welcome to the LEED-certified Alfred R. Goldstein Library.


The Lifelong Learning Academy and Pierian Spring Academy joined us to offer continuing education for all ages.


2018

The Richard + Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center at Ringling College.

Artmaking at its finest! The Richard + Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center opens with new spaces for printmaking, glassblowing, woodworking, letterpress, and more!


The Ringling College Studio Labs soundstage and post-production facility.

Work is completed on the Ringling College Studio Labs soundstage and post-production facility. The Film program has a new home in one soundstage while the other and the post-production studio will invite commercial and academic work.


We. Are. VR. Yep, we have launched the world’s first BFA program in Virtual Reality.


We just received the largest gift in our history from Drs. Joel and Gail Morganroth — $15 million.


The Bridge Apartments at Ringling College.

The Bridge Apartments, our gorgeous, new residence hall, has opened for third- and fourth-year students.


Goodbye and thank you to the residence halls Appleton, Harmon, and Idelson, which have been removed to make way for a new, larger hall opening fall 2020.


Record enrollment hit! We are now 1550 students strong!


2019

Entertainment Design will become our newest BFA program in the fall. 


We will be opening the doors to the Sarasota Museum of Art at the Gala on December 7.


Thank you, President Larry R. Thompson, for your 20 years of tireless, spirited leadership! 


By Stephanie Lederer | Portrait of Dr. Larry R. Thompson by Matthew Holler (Photography & Imaging, ’11)
Stephanie Lederer is the Editorial + PR Manager for Ringling College and Editor of CONTXT magazine.