2015 Distinguished Teaching Award

Phillip Thompson, PhD, PE



Strives for Excellence

Phillip Thompson, this year’s Distinguished Faculty Award winner, has high expectations of himself.  A member of Seattle University’s faculty since 1997, Dr. Thompson is Professor of Civil Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability.

Award Winner

Dr. Thompson earned the 2009-11 Thomas J. Bannan endowed Chair of Engineering. Upon his receiving the 2010-2011 McGoldrick Fellowship Award Dr. Jean Jacoby, Associate Dean of the college said, “Phil Thompson is a most deserving recipient. His research in several diverse areas of environmental engineering and his mentorship of the SU chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) highlights the contributions that engineers make to improving environmental quality and human health.”

A consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates and Bullitt Foundations, Dr. Thompson is a recipient of grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, and his research on water treatment and pollution control has been published widely.

International Outreach

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Dr. Thompson received an email from Dr. Wes Lauer, a Seattle U colleague, who was working on a project in Haiti.  Dr. Lauer wanted to install a water filtration system for Port au Prince similar to the one they’d built in Thailand.  Locating all the required parts locally, Thompson shipped them off to Lauer in a Samsonite suitcase.   The ESW chapter built three water purification systems, and has added five more since 2010.  

Having worked on water projects in Thailand, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Zambia, Dr. Thompson has a rich experience to draw upon.  Of his course in Global Engineering Economics, he says, “I try to keep it interesting and practical and explain complicated topics in a simple way. “ He believes that his engineering consulting work has kept his teaching fresh and relevant.  In terms of his teaching philosophy, his exams are open book, because he tests problem solving ability and not memorization. 

Engages Students

“Phil has done a superb job providing dozens of our students the opportunity to engage in meaningful service-learning projects on three continents,” said Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering.  “He is a great ambassador for Seattle University, and through his tireless efforts our visibility and reputation have been greatly enhanced.  He truly lives the mission of Seattle University, and we are fortunate to have him on our faculty.” 

“The scope of Phil’s service to the College of Science and Engineering and the university is huge,” declared Jacoby. “His deep concern for the environment and commitment to providing solutions to environmental problems is woven throughout his teaching, scholarship and service activities.  Phil exemplifies SU’s care for students and commitment to environmental justice and sustainability.  He serves as a very effective ambassador to our broader community.”

Phil Thompson is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Faculty award.