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For many colleges students, the coming-of-age undergraduate years are very much about following the beat of one’s own drum, literally. Such was the case for Dennis Thompson ’68, a jazz drummer and percussionist whose fondest memories of UB involved being station manager of WPKN, a student-run, Bridgeport radio station. Thompson recently reached out to his alma mater to share the news that he had been elected to the Board of Trustees at Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass., where he earned an MBA in 1979 after his BA in Psychology from UB in 1968. Looking back on his UB days, the leadership responsibilities he picked up at WPKN – which aired 20 hours a day – laid the foundation for success in his career and community service activities to this day.

My UB Story

I believe college is what you make of it and is different for everyone. A student that goes to class but doesn’t seek extracurricular activities can miss out on the most relevant and memorable aspect of a college education. For me, the experience of leading fellow students toward a common purpose served as a foundation for my future management positions in the workplace.

As station manager of WPKN, which was then fully student run, I had the required daily responsibilities of coordinating programming, engineering, training, licensing, and scheduling announcers, as well as answering to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Our student club also traveled to all the away-basketball games and announced play-by-play back to the University. Managing and directing these activities was an opportunity and education in itself.

In addition to WPKN, many other UB influences come to mind, including the following faculty and staff:

  • Ms. Buell, Director of Food Services, who offered me a work scholarship that helped with my finances.
  • Dr. Wolff, Dean of Students, who was always there for me and many of my classmates.
  • Dr. Teft, Professor of Comparative Psychology, who was an outstanding teacher and motivator.

Current “Extracurricular” Activities

Today, I have a reduced workload at my insurance agency to leave time for my other interests, such as the promotion of opportunities in the maritime industry working in cooperation with Port Canaveral and the Brevard County School System.

Also while in Massachusetts, I served as Board President to the Bridge of Central Mass that provides counseling and residential services to troubled youths. Since I left, they have grown to provide over a dozen human service programs with over 500 employees.

As for music and drumming, it’s always been a part of me. I currently perform weekly at Heidi’s Jazz Club in Cocoa Beach, Florida, backing up singer/songwriter Sybil Gage from New Orleans.

Connecting With Me Today

I would welcome connecting wtih my UB buddies any time. Feel free to email me at dennis(at)tballc(dot)net.

Dennis Thompson '68

The experience of leading fellow students toward a common purpose as WPKN station manager served as a foundation for my future management positions in the workplace.

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