Cleon F. Thompson, Jr. was born in New York, NY. He received his public school education in Bennettsville, South Carolina. He earned the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science in biology from North Carolina Central University. In 1977, he completed the Ph.D. in educational administration from Duke University, with minor degrees in political science, economics, and educational law.
Cleon F. Thompson, Jr. was Vice President for Student Services and Special Programs of the University of North Carolina when he became Interim Chancellor of A&T on November 1, 1980. Dr. Thompson’s previous affiliation with A&T was that of assistant professor of biology from 1960–1961.
Dr. Thompson assumed the responsibility as chancellor with dedication, enthusiasm and progressive leadership. Through his good work, he earned the respect and admiration of the university family, alumni, community, local, state and national educators and officials.
In 1985, Thompson was appointed chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. After serving WSSU for ten years as chancellor, Dr. Thompson left the University in 1995 to continue work within the University of North Carolina System.