Thomas A. Cropper is the 14th president of California State University Maritime Academy, one of the 23 campuses in the California State University system. He began his presidency on July 1, 2012 after a 31-year career in the United States Navy.
Cropper is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in engineering operations and received his commission from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1981. He was designated a naval aviator in 1982, followed by operational assignments with 3 aircraft carrier-based jet squadrons. He went on to serve as the commanding officer of a F/A-18 strikefighter squadron and as commander of the air wing aboard USS NIMITZ. Most recently, Cropper directed education and at-sea training for Navy ships and aviation squadrons deploying to the western Pacific and the Middle East. In his Navy career, Cropper embarked on eight extended deployments in USS America (CV 66), USS Forrestal (CV 59), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and flew nearly 5,000 hours in 43 different aircraft while logging over 1200 carrier arrested landings.
Cropper has enjoyed 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 graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval War College earning a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He holds additional master's degrees from the University of Tennessee (Aviation Systems) and the Catholic University of America (World Politics). He is the recipient of the Michael Ripley Award as Naval Test Pilot School Instructor of the Year, and was also selected as the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Pilot of the Year. His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and various service and campaign awards.
Cropper lives on the Cal Maritime campus in Vallejo, California with his wife Heather. Their two daughters attended CSU campuses and their son is a Class of 2012 alumnus of California State University Maritime Academy.