Sociology grad Larry Dean Thompson named Distinguished Alumni

September 26, 2023

A version of this article was published by MSU Alumni at

Sociology alumnus Larry Dean Thompson has been named a 2023 University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. The award will be presented Nov. 3 at the Alumni Grand Awards by President Theresa Woodruff.

Larry Dean ThompsonMr. Thompson has an extensive career in government, in private practice and as a public company general counsel, where his actions reflect a commitment to equity and social justice. Mr. Thompson graduated cum laude from Culver-Stockton College in 1967, received his master’s from MSU College of Social Science in 1969, and received his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1974.

He is a former U.S. Deputy Attorney General who served during the George W. Bush Administration. Mr. Thompson served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and General Counsel and EVP of PepsiCo Inc., where his efforts centered on promoting diversity. He has been awarded the first-ever William T. Coleman Lifetime Achievement Award by the African American Partners Network, the Edmund Jennings Randolph Award for contributions to the DOJ’s mission, the Outstanding Litigator Award by the Federal Bar Association, and the AT Walden Award by the Gate City Bar Association. Mr. Thompson served as the Lead Director of The Southern Committee, served on the Compensation Committee of the Graham Holdings Company, and is currently on the Board of the Franklin Templeton Mutual Series Funds, and the George W. Bush Foundation Board. He is an elected Fellow of the American Board of Governance Counsel, and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and was elected to the Council of the American Law Institute.

Upon Mr. Thompson’s retirement from PepsiCo, the company created the Larry Thompson Fellowship Program to honor his life’s commitment to adding diversity to the legal profession. Through his work in public service, Larry Thompson has distinguished himself as an extraordinary Spartan.  

“There's been this sense of service that started with my education at Michigan State, and I'm really grateful that that's been a keystone of my career,” Mr. Thompson said.

He was awarded the College of Social Science Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022. This award is given to alumni who have differentiated themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishment.