“Thunder Thornton” to serve as President’s first ambassador

Jessica White

“Thunder Thornton”

Reaction to “Thunder Thornton”

André Thornton will begin work this month, sharing his professional knowledge with students and faculty as President Lester Lefton’s first “ambassador.”

Thornton’s specific responsibilities aren’t fully determined, said Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.

But his projects will include speaking to students and faculty about business and entrepreneurship, working with student leadership groups, serving on advisory committees and brainstorming scholarship fundraisers.

He will serve for one term — September through June — and receive $10,000.

“I feel very humbled that I was asked to participate in this kind of role,” Thornton said.

Brown said his first event is a retreat at the Kent State Stark Campus on Sept. 24, where he’ll speak about what it takes to create a successful, diverse campus.

He will be at the Kent campus about eight times to speak, Brown said. She said she’d also like him to address diversity and minority challenges.

“André Thornton will be a great role model for our minority students,” Brown said. “I feel very strongly that we need an increase in faculty of color.

“This is another way of bringing in a successful face of diversity.”

In fact, ethnicity is part of the eligibility for the President’s Ambassador position, she said.

Each ambassador must be African-American, Latin American or Native American. He or she must also be a distinguished leader and professional in the local community.

Thornton will continue as the president and CEO of ASW Global, an Akron-based company that helps other companies manufacture their products efficiently. Thornton also played for the Cleveland Indians for 10 years under the nickname “Thunder Thornton” and still ranks as the team’s seventh all-time home run hitter.

“My background in athletics, business, civic and social affairs and faith can all be used,” Thornton said. “We tried to pick areas in which I could bring value to the university.”

Before Thornton’s term ends, Brown and her selected committee will choose next year’s ambassador. Candidates are nominated by letters of reference.

Contact Jessica White at [email protected] for more information.