On May 19, Maryville College will host the commencement ceremonies for the graduating class of 2013. Jim Thornton will be the guest speaker for the event and will also be receiving an honorary doctor of law degree during the event.
Thornton is the founder and CEO of Thornton Enterprises, which is described on its website as a developer of high-end homes.
“Mr. Thornton was recommended for an honorary degree and as commencement speaker because his life experience epitomizes, in many ways, the ideals of Maryville College,” said MC president Tom Bogart. “He is a strong believer in liberal arts education as the foundation for professional success and an advocate for holistic personal development rather than narrow training.”
Bogart also spoke of Thornton’s commitment to helping others.
“He is a person of faith who is devoted to his family and active in serving his community,” Bogart said.
MC’s head football coach Mike Rader is personal friends with Thornton. According to Rader, Thornton has strong ties to the College. “This is a guy who has a connection to Maryville College that’s really unique,” Rader said.
Thornton served on MC’s Board of Directors from 1991 to 1999 and also provided valuable opportunities to MC students. Bogart said that Thornton’s involvement has benefited many MC alumni.
“One telling example of Mr. Thornton’s commitment to Maryville College’s principles is that he regularly recruited Maryville College graduates who had played on the basketball team when he was running his business.” Bogart said. “He did this because he knew that they would have both excellent academic skills along with discipline and teamwork, all of which were important for success.”
Rader said these students were chosen because of their ability to be academic and to work in competitive situations.
“A lot of those gentlemen and ladies are, I’m assuming, going to be at the commencement party they’re having for [Thornton],” Rader said.
The title of Thornton’s commencement address is “Lloyd’s Lessons and Pat’s Principles,” according to the Maryville College website.
Rader said he believes Thornton’s address could be beneficial to students because of Thornton’s knowledge of and successes in the business world.
“I’m sure there will be a good underlying message for the graduates on practical experience and information that they can use for this big jump,” Rader said.
Rader believes that Thornton can incorporate his business knowledge into the address.
“What he could bring to the table is that he’s living the American dream,” Rader said. “I think that he can share what college students need to hear right before they’re getting ready to jump into the real world.”
“I hope that our students are inspired both by his words and by his example as they go forth to live as citizens and leaders and devote lives of creativity and service to the peoples of the world,” Bogart said. “Commencement is a joyous celebration of both the accomplishments of our graduates and of their potential for the future.”
The commencement ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m. on May 19 and will be held on the lawn between Anderson Hall and Sutton Science Center.