As we celebrate Dr. Larry R. Thompson’s 20th year as President of Ringling College of Art and Design, this quote resonates with me:
“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”– D. Elton Trueblood –
Two decades ago, Larry came to Ringling College with dreams and ideas of what the College could become. He created a vision of Ringling College becoming the preeminent art and design college in the world. He has talked endlessly about Ringling College being on a fast trajectory and of shattering the myth of the starving artist. For 20 years, he has inspired our faculty, staff, students, trustees, and friends to live that vision—not just to think about it or dream about it, but to do our part to make it a reality.
A 2017 survey conducted by the American Council on Education showed that the average tenure for college leaders was only six-and-a-half years and continues to get shorter. Many college presidents move on to other institutions, never seeing the fruits of their labors or having the opportunity to sit under the shade of the trees they planted. Yet after 20 years, Larry’s passion for Ringling College is as strong as ever, and so is the energy he puts into it. Now, we are at a tipping point. We are beginning to see his vision become a reality.
The collective results are more than any one of us could have imagined. The evolution and growth of Ringling College has been transformational. The accolades, accomplishments, and successes continue and are too numerous to count. Our students’ and faculty’s work is being recognized as the best in their respective fields. New trees were planted this year, as student enrollment set records and numerous, gorgeous new facilities opened their doors.
Donors are a big reason for Ringling College’s success. The incredible generosity and support Ringling College has received from friends like you has helped us realize the vision Larry set forth all those years ago. Your thoughtful gifts of time, energy, and financial resources have placed the College among the top art and design colleges in the world. We know it doesn’t end here. Ringling College’s impact is not just in Sarasota or Bradenton, not just throughout southwest Florida or across the state. Ringling College is impacting the world.
How? It happens one design at a time, one artwork at a time, and through every creative thought our graduates and students bring to companies and communities. Your gifts create scholarships, creative learning spaces, cutting-edge academic programming, student life resources, community engagement spaces in our on-campus galleries, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College, the School of Continuing Studies, and the Sarasota Museum of Art. You are impacting the world.
So as our Advancement team trims the branches and fertilizes the trees, we know that we may never sit under their shade. There’s no time for resting. There’s much work to be done. And, in many cases, the fruits of this labor will be seen far into the future. Garnering support and working with donors to ensure Ringling College and our students continue to bring creativity to the world, tomorrow and for generations to come, is an awesome and rewarding task. Thank you for your role in helping Ringling College impact the world.
Stacey R. Corley
Vice President for Advancement