Ronald J. Thornton


July 25, 2014 - Harrogate, Tennessee — Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) mourns the passing of retired Associate Professor of Psychology Ronald J. Thornton, who passed away at his home on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Thornton retired from LMU in May 2013 following 36 years of service. He was hired as a professor of psychology in 1974 and served as both a college professor and an instructor at the J. Frank White Academy during his career. He represented the department of social sciences at many University events including Preview Days, orientations and recruitment fairs. Thornton also served as the department chair and academic advisor to student clubs like the Psychology Club. He also served on several LMU committees such as the General Education Committee and the Institutional Review Board and was the founding chairperson for LMU’s Faculty Senate.

In 1989, when the University opened the J. Frank White Academy, Thornton was the first LMU professor to take advantage of the opportunity to teach Academy classes as part of his teaching load. The high school students loved his classes and they frequently talked about how he treated them like “college students.” Founding principal Sylvia Lynch said, “Ron always went the extra mile and he frequently had the students doing sophisticated research projects and studies. He was a great encourager and yet he did a good job of pushing them to do their best, demanding nothing less from them.”

Thornton was inducted into the LMU Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2010. He had a reputation for being one of the most approachable faculty members on campus. Often you could find him speaking with students on the quad between classes.

“Dr. Thornton loved his students deeply and reached them through his rare and consummate gift for teaching.,” said Paul V. Hamilton School of Arts and Humanities Dean Martin Sellers.

Outside of his academic career, Thornton had a passion for music. To say it was a labor of love was an understatement. In 2011 he released Songs from the Porch, which was the culmination of 20 years of songwriting and performing. Recorded at Audio Thermal Studio in Melbourne, Florida, the compact disc included 10 original songs by Thornton. He performed his music at LMU with annual concerts on campus and took his music on the road with performances at various venues in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama over the years.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at

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