Mike Thompson is retiring from his position as the Laboratory Manager on the Reynolda Campus in the Department of Chemistry. He has been with Wake Forest since August 1989, over 31 years!
How has Wake changed since you started?
It is definitely larger now, and obviously, the buildings are in much better shape. The university is managed much more rigorously than when I started.
What have you enjoyed most while working at Wake?
The opportunity to learn more in my particular field as I progressed year by year.
Tell us about a favorite interaction with a student or faculty member.
The fondest memory I have is that of Dr. Phil Hamrick, the Chem Dept Chair in 1989. His friendly and gentlemanly manner served as an inspiration to me, as was his dedication to pure science. He was serious about his work, and yet also had time to laugh and slap me on the shoulder now and then to keep my spirits up after a hard day’s work. And I will never forget the Chem Dept graduate students I took on deep sea fishing trips to the outer banks, the undergrads who worked with me in the stockroom, those students who encouraged me to work out with them in the old university gymnasium, the lunches I had with close Faculty friends at local country-style restaurants, or the constant help and advice I received from Wake Forest’s knowledgeable and wise-cracking Physical Facilities gentlemen and ladies all.
What is a fun fact about yourself that would surprise students to hear?
After graduation from High School, I spent time on construction jobs in the Caribbean and traveled on various types of boats over the entire area of the British and US Virgin Islands. In my spare time, I did a lot of skin diving over coral reefs, sometimes with company but usually alone, in an old 12-foot Boston Whaler with a 65-horsepower outboard engine, open to sun and sky and ocean spray. Any boundaries to my world then simply did not exist. Working for 31 years in one building did not bother me at all after that experience. I never once felt confined here – almost as if I had exchanged one limitless world for another.
What activities do you plan to enjoy when your retirement begins?
I will travel once again, but this time I will take books along with me – and engage in mental and physical adventures that I hope will never end – with the help of a little merlot.