PULLMAN, Wash. — Richard S. Thompson, a Rhodes Scholar and veteran of 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, was honored Feb. 24 in Washington, D.C., with a Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award.


WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) attended.

Thompson enrolled at WSU in 1951 after graduating as Pullman High School valedictorian. The old administration building at WSU was renamed Thompson Hall in honor of his father, Albert Thompson, longtime faculty member and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Richard Thompson spent 1953-54 studying in France before earning a degree in political science with highest honors in 1955. That year he was one of only 32 Rhodes Scholars selected in the United States. He holds a master’s degree from Oxford University.

Following two years in the Army, he began a distinguished career in 1960 with the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. Assignments took him to Aruba, Venezuela, Niger, Saigon (twice), France, Algeria and Washington, D.C. (three times). He was part of the U.S. delegation to the Vietnam peace talks in Paris from 1972-74.

Thompson earned a master’s degree in international affairs at Georgetown University in 1978.  His areas of responsibility at State Department headquarters included Ireland, Sweden, Greece and the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He speaks French, German, Spanish, Vietnamese and Papiamento, the language of Aruba.

He retired in 1988 after nearly 28 years in the Foreign Service, and then worked for the American Foreign Service Association, retiring again in 2000 as coordinator of professional issues. He lives in Bethesda, Md.