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Press Release  
Release Date: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:20 AM
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Rachel Mann
Communications Specialist
Alvin Thornton, Ph.D., Honored as Morehouse College
Alumnus of the Year

Alvin Thornton, Ph.D.

WASHINGTON (May 29, 2013) – Alvin Thornton, Ph.D., senior academic advisor to the president of Howard University, was honored recently as Alumnus of the Year at Morehouse College in a ceremony in Atlanta for his work supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the community at large.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized in this manner by the National Alumni Association of the institution that did so much to define and shape my life,” Thornton said. “Morehouse first served me so I could then serve the community.” The award was bestowed on May 18.

When asked about his support for HBCUs and advocacy on their behalf, Thornton talked about their importance in maintaining diversity in higher education.

“HBCUs continue to be important to our nation’s ability to achieve its higher education agenda and realize its democratic ideals,” Thornton said. “Most [HBCUs] were born in the crucible of great tension about how personhood, citizenship and due process should be defined and protected. HBCUs helped give enhanced meaning to personhood, citizenship and due process in our nation.”  

Thornton served for two years as Howard University’s interim provost and chief academic officer and eight years as associate provost.  He also was a faculty member of Howard’s Department of Political Science for 20 years and was its chair from 1995 to 2002. Thornton is the author of two books, Politics and Power in the District of Columbia and Like a Phoenix I’ll Rise:  the History of Blacks in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He also has written many articles and book chapters on public education and political behavior.
At Howard, where he earned his Ph.D., Thornton is a key figure in the establishment of the annual Morehouse-Howard AT&T Nation’s Football Classic and of “The HBCU Experience is More Than a Game,” events that showcase the academic expertise of HBCUs during the week leading up to the Classic.

Over the years, Thornton led political and economic equality initiatives in Prince George’s County, MD, and championed the improvement of Maryland’s public schools.. In 1999, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening appointed Thornton as chair of the Commission on Education Finance, Equity, and Excellence, popularly known as the “Thornton Commission,” to study and make recommendations to the General Assembly about how the State could ensure adequate and equitable school funding. The Commission’s recommendations serve as the State’s education funding and accountability design.

A graduate of the Randolph County Training School (RCTS) in his hometown of Roanoke, AL, Thornton also led the effort to create a RCTS Scholarship Foundation to support the higher education needs of descendants of the institution’s graduates.  


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