Prof. Lee Thornton was named the University of Maryland’s “Outstanding Woman of the Year” on Tuesday by the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues (PCWI). Founded in the 1970s, the primary mission of the Commission is to advocate for the interest of the entire community of women at the University of Maryland College Park.
Each year in spring ceremonies, the Commission recognizes an Outstanding Woman of the Year along with an Outstanding Woman of Color, Outstanding Professional Staff and an Outstanding Graduate Student.
Currently serving as Interim Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity for the university, Prof. Thornton is responsible for early implementation of the university’s diversity strategic plan. She was cited for her work as interim dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2008-09.
She was the College’s first woman dean. She was also cited for her teaching awards and for being a broadcast news trailblazer, with several “firsts” to her credit. She was the first African American woman to cover a regular White House beat for one of the then three broadcast news networks, CBS News.
In prepared remarks, Thornton thanked her students, “every one of them…for allowing me to learn with them. I see and hear them on the air everywhere, all of the time. And I know their success was less about me than it was about them. I just got lucky.”
She also thanked the Richard Eaton Foundation for its generous support of her work over the years. She was the first holder of the Eaton Chair in Broadcast Journalism at Merrill, serving as Eaton professor from 1997 to 2010. It is the first endowed chair of its kind in the nation.
Added Merrill College Dean Kevin Klose: “We thank the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues for making it official: Lee Thornton is the greatest!”