Rear Admiral Thomas A. Cropper was appointed as president of California State University Maritime Academy in 2012—following a 31-year career in the United States Navy. Most recently, Cropper directed education and at-sea training for Navy ships and aviation squadrons deploying to the western Pacific and the Middle East.
Throughout his service in the Navy, Cropper has held a number of challenging shore assignments including attendance at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, service as military assistant in the Office of Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and appointment as the Navy Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He also led "Strike University" at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, served as chief of staff, U.S. 3rd Fleet, headed the Joint Chiefs of Staff Working Group chartered with the development of national level security strategy, and led and managed 24,000 people in combat operations as deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces, U.S. Central Command.
Cropper was commissioned from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1981 after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in engineering operations. Later, he earned a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College and holds additional master's degrees from the University of Tennessee (Aviation Systems) and the Catholic University of America (World Politics).
Cropper's honors include the Michael Ripley Award as Naval Test Pilot School Instructor of the Year, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Pilot of the Year, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medal.