A native of Oklahoma, Tompkins graduated from East Central University in 1969 where he majored in English. After completing his undergraduate degree, Tompkins attended Emporia State University where he completed his master's degree in education administration in 1973, and completed his doctorate in education from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1977.

Early career

After graduating from ECU, Tompkins began his 46-year career as an educator as a secondary teacher in Oklahoma, quickly moving to Hugoton, Kansas the following year. Following a year at Hugoton, Tompkins went to serve as West Franklin High School's principal in Pomona, Kansas before serving as the superintendent at three different school districts from 1977 until 1994. From 1994 to 1996, Tompkins served at Pittsburg State University as the interim dean of the School of Education and the school's Special Services and Administrative Studies department.

Later career


Kansas Superintendent of the Year, 1992
Inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame, 2001
KSHSAA Governor's Award, 2002
KU College of Education Distinguished Service Award, 2004
ESU Distinguished Alumni Award, 2005