President Sidney A. Ribeau announced today the appointment of Dr. Alvin Thornton as the Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer of Howard University effective August 25, 2008. Dr. Thornton was most recently promoted to the position of Senior Associate Provost, after serving six years as Associate Provost. He will serve as the Interim Provost until a national search culminates in the appointment of a permanent Provost.
In making the announcement, Dr. Ribeau stated, “the University is grateful to Dr. Thornton for agreeing to serve as Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer. A committee that I appointed, consisting of representatives from the Academic Affairs Division, the research enterprise, and the Faculty Senate, unanimously recommended Dr. Thornton as the person best suited to lead the Office of the Provost as we embark on a national search for the permanent Provost. During his tenure in the Provost Office, Dr. Thornton has exhibited an exemplary participatory and collegial leadership style and a commitment to shared governance. I am confident that Dr. Thornton will provide leadership, vision and continuity in the division of Academic Affairs.”
In his capacity as Associate Provost, Dr. Thornton had oversight responsibility for the University’s largest college and schools (the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Communications and the School of Education), the Ralph Bunche Center, and the Office of Institutional Assessment and Evaluation. He served as the liaison to the Office of the General Counsel. Dr. Thornton also had oversight responsibility for the following academic administrative support units in the area of enrollment management: Admission; Financial Aid, Scholarships and Student Employment; Student Financial Services; Academic Records/Registrar, and the Office of Laureate Scholars and Undergraduate Programs of Excellence. He also directed Howard University's Amgen Scholars and Leadership Alliance Programs.
Dr. Thornton played a central role in the development of the University’s academic affairs budget, program development, accreditation and reviews, and faculty recruitment, hiring, tenure review and development. In addition, he served as the Office of the Provost’s primary liaison to the University’s Middle States re-accreditation process. Dr. Thornton led the effort in the Office of the Provost to complete the development of revised by-laws for the University’s merged schools and colleges.
Prior to joining the Office of the Provost, Dr. Thornton served for twenty-six years as a faculty member in the University’s Political Science Department. From July 1995 to January 2002, he served as chair of the Department, one of the University’s largest academic departments. At the conclusion of his tenure as chair of the department, he received an award from the department’s faculty, students and staff for distinguished service.
In addition to traditional roles in the university and academic community, Dr. Thornton has had considerable experience as a public servant. In 1999, Maryland’s Governor asked him to serve as Chair of Maryland’s State Commission on Education Finance Equity, Adequacy and Excellence (the Thornton Commission). The Commission’s membership included the State’s legislative, fiscal, and educational policy makers and leaders, and its recommendations became the design that the State uses to fund secondary public education. He also served as a member of the Board of Education of Prince George’s County Maryland from 1992 to 1999, and was elected chair three times.
President Ribeau stated, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I welcome Dr. Thornton to his new role as the University’s Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer and ask students, faculty, staff and administrative colleagues to give him their full support.” President Ribeau also took the opportunity to thank Dean Kurt L. Schmoke, J.D., for serving as Acting Senior Vice President for Academic Matters, and Dr. Richard A. English, who served as Provost from 2003 to 2008. Dean Schmoke will return to his duties as the Dean of Howard University’s School of Law.