Champion for collaboration

Student affairs director is liaison for students
March 23rd, 2022

Kimberley Morgan-Thompson

“Student affairs is a great office and a great department,” says Courtney Favaloro, D4 and student body president, during this month of staffing transition. “They really do so much for us. We only see a sliver of what they do; there’s so much more behind the scenes. They do a great job seeing that we’re taken care of and looking out for our needs.”

Departing Director of Student Affairs Kimberley Morgan-Thompson describes her role as a liaison between the student body, college faculty and staff. Shari Bow, the new director, brings over 15 years of student affairs experience, most recently as the head of student affairs at Dallas International School.

While events are an important part of this job, the student affairs office takes a broader perspective to help make sure Texas A&M College of Dentistry students are properly set up for success, Morgan-Thompson explains.

“Really [the job is] just making sure the students are healthy and have what they need, not just academically but also the resources they need,” she says. “It may be groceries, it may be health care, mental health care, things of that nature.”

Favaloro, who describes the office as “incredibly supportive,” says putting on events for the school is just the tip of the iceberg. Morgan-Thompson, in particular, has always been a shoulder to lean on for her class. She began working with student affairs around the same time that Favaloro and her class entered the school as D1s. She says that Morgan-Thompson was a kind, welcoming and supportive presence for a class that was still learning their way around the college. Another memory she mentioned, in particular, came from her time as a D3 student.

“We were all figuring out being in clinics for the first time, on top of COVID, and there were just a lot of frustrations with what was going on,” Favaloro says. “She could sense our frustration, and she had a meeting with me, my vice president and class rep and she was like, ‘I want you all to talk to me. I can help be that liaison, try to figure this out with y’all.’ That meant a lot that she didn’t just blow us off.”

Morgan-Thompson officially departed March 3 to focus on completing her doctorate in education, though she is still working part time through the end of the month to aid her department’s transition to new leadership. The four years she spent with the dental school contribute to over 20 years of experience she’s gained in student affairs.

“I’ve worked in allied health before, and I’ve worked at the medical school; I did not realize how rigorous the dental program is,” she says. “I have to say I respect the students here a whole lot more than I originally thought. These students are tough, and it takes a lot for them to progress in this dental arena. I’ve been pleased.

“I hope that, during my assignment here, I was able to make differences; not just for the students but our department as a whole and throughout the college community. When I first got here there wasn’t a lot of connection or collaboration. I’m hoping that I’ve been able to turn that over and build relationships with all the departments.”

Morgan-Thompson also shares some words of wisdom and encouragement.

“Students appreciate it when you take time with them,” she says. “For the college community as a whole, I would just say there’s a lot of great faculty members and staff members here. Just continue to show up, do your best, and I believe the rest will work itself out.”

Even as she goes on to newer things, those still with the college wish her the best.

“Ms. Morgan-Thompson did a great job and we’re sad that she’s leaving, but we’re so excited for her personal and professional journey,” Favaloro says.

— Caleb Vierkant