Board of Education / Chair Dr. Alvin Thornton Biography
  • Chair Dr. Alvin Thornton Biography

    Chair Dr. Alvin Thornton Biography

    Dr. Alvin Thornton was a faculty member in the Political Science at Howard University for 37 years. He was formally Senior Academic Advisor to the President of Howard University, Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Associate Provost for Academic affairs, and chair of the Political Science Department.

    He is the recipient of numerous outstanding leadership and service awards: including the Willis Award for Outstanding School Board Leadership (Maryland Association of Boards of Education); Friend of Education Award (Maryland State Teachers’ Association); Howard University College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Excellence Award; Morehouse College National Alumnus of the Year Award; the NAACP Image Award (Prince George’s County, Md.); the Emma Mae Posner Award (Prince George’s County Historical Society); and two Fannie Lou Hamer Service Awards (National Conference of Black Political Scientists).

    In his capacity as Interim Provost (2 years) and Associate Provost (8 years), Dr. Thornton had oversight of the University's eight academic affairs colleges and schools, the university Library, the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, the Office of Institutional Assessment and Evaluation, and the Enrollment Management units (Financial Aid, Admissions, and Student Financial Services). He also coordinated the University's Amgen Scholars and Leadership Alliance Programs and served as the principal investigator for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) STEM development program. During his tenure at Howard, Dr. Thornton led many university-wide initiatives. He chaired the University’s 2009 Self-Study Executive Committee in preparation for the decennial reaffirmation of the University’s accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). He also chaired the university’s 2010 Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal

    (PCAR), which assessed each of the university’s academic programs and recommended strategic changes, and the university-wide budget advisory committee.

    Dr. Thornton is the co-author of two books (Perspectives of Political Power in the District of Columbia, and Like a Phoenix I’LL Rise: An Illustrated History of African Americans in Prince George’s County, Maryland, 1696 to 1996) and many articles and book chapters dealing with public education and political behavior.

    In addition to traditional roles in the university and academic community, Dr. Thornton has been a community servant and activist. In the mid-1970’s, while serving as President of the Morgan State University Facult

    Senate, Dr. Thornton helped lead the effort to maintain the independent status of Morgan State University within the Maryland Higher Education System. While on leave from his faculty position at Morgan State University (1978-1980), he served as a legislative assistant (congressional fellow) to Congressman John Conyers, Jr., helping to advocate for a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Since 1974, he has played a primary role in the development of enhanced democratic processes and institutions in Maryland and Prince George’s County, specifically. He wrote weekly articles for the Prince George’s Journal Newspaper addressing educational, political, cultural and economic issues affecting the county. Dr. Thornton chaired two conventions of Black people (1984 and 1988) whose purpose was to assess issues affecting the Black community in Prince George’s County and develop policy recommendations. He also chaired a committee (Citizens for Representative Redistricting) that designed and advocated for the drawing of a representative congressional district in Prince George’s County. He was a primary contributor to the 1985 “Black Male Achievement Report” report that addressed structural issues affecting the academic achievement of Black males in the Prince George’s County school system. 

    He was an elected member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education between 1992 and 1999 and was elected to chair the Board three times. Dr. Thornton led the Board’s negotiations that resulted in the 1998 Federal Court consent decree ending mandatory busing and mandating the building of additional schools and the implementation of a targeted student development program. In 1999, Maryland’s Governor appointed him to chair the State’s Commission on Education Adequacy, Equity and Excellence (the “Thornton Commission”).

    The Commission’s visionary recommendations became the design that the State uses to fund and hold accountable secondary public education. In December of 2018, the County Executive of Prince George’s County appointed Dr. Thornton to chair the Board of Education.

    Dr. Thornton was born in Roanoke, Alabama, and received a B.A. degree from Morehouse College and a Ph.D. from Howard University. He is married to Annette Thornton (a retired teacher) and they have two daughters (graduates of the Prince George’s County Public School System) and four grandchildren.