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Profiles in generosity

Paul David Tompkins ’92


February 28, 2024
Paul in Nepal

Friends and colleagues of Paul Tompkins remember him as a person who never did anything halfway. Mountain climbing and scuba diving took him all over the world, and he constructed his own chain mail while taking medieval history courses at MIT. Space, though, was a lifelong passion: he was lead flight director for NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite mission, which discovered water under the moon’s surface in 2009, and his most recent employer, Blue Origin, sent a plaque into space that honored his memory as an explorer who was “dedicated to expanding humanity beyond Earth.”

“He loved life, and sharing what he loved with other people,” says his mother, Mimi.

Launching a legacy. As the steward of Paul’s estate, Mimi knew that using it to make an endowed scholarship gift would be a fitting way to honor his memory. “Paul’s MIT degree launched him on the career of his dreams,” she says. “I wanted to make a scholarship gift that will last in perpetuity so that others achieve their goals as well, and so that his name will be remembered.” 

A lasting bond. Paul’s Theta Chi fraternity brothers invited Mimi to what would have been Paul’s 30th reunion—a “beautiful, but bittersweet” experience for her. The friendships he formed at MIT made a profound impact on his life, she says: “Paul would be proud to know his contribution will assist others in fulfilling their dreams. He never missed an opportunity to inspire, encourage, and support his fellow human beings in making their dreams come true.”

Help MIT build a better world. For more information, contact the Office of Gift Planning: 617.253.4082; Or visit

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