Houston– Dr. Evelyn E. Thornton, prominent educator, died suddenly on Tuesday, July 15th in Houston.
Dr. Thornton was a distinguished educator who received both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Texas Southern University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Houston with a specialty in Algebraic Topology. She was completing 50 years of distinguished service at Prairie View A&M University.
At Prairie View A&M University, Thornton was a Professor of Mathematics and served as Head of the Department of Mathematics for thirteen years, as Coordinator of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, as Director of the Undergraduate Research Institute for talented students in mathematics and as Immediate Past Speaker for the Faculty Senate. Her achievements reflect her long-standing commitment to higher education, to advancing knowledge and understanding of mathematics, and to developing student potential. She was an outstanding teacher and mentor, who produced several hundred undergraduate mathematics majors and directed over 45 master’s theses. Six of her former students have received the Ph.D. degree in mathematics or statistics and four have earned the doctorate degree in mathematics education.
Dr. Thornton received external funding totaling $4.5 million to establish and sustain the development of networks that support mathematics through both research and outreach. This funding included grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Program, the National Science Foundation, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Corporation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Her contributions to education have extended to national and international levels as: a member of the design team for the Houston Urban Systematic Initiative supported by the National Science Foundation; founder of the Junior Academy of the National Institute of Science (JANIS) – which currently involves young scientist in six regions of the United States; and a member of 1990 American Delegation of Women in Science to Beijing, China.
After creating a School Partnership with Prairie View A&M University and the Houston Independent School District, she introduced and directed, ‘Project TIMES’, a popular project designed to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and learning in grades K-8. This project served 120 teachers and 3521 students in the district, from 1993 to 2001.
For nearly a half a century, Thornton has been honored and recognized as an outstanding scientist, teacher and civic leader. She was the recipient of the first Eta Falconer Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Award from the Quality Education for Minority Network in Washington, D.C.; and the PVAMU Long and Outstanding Service Award, the PVAMU Minnie Stephen Piper Professor Award for outstanding teaching. Prairie View Distinguished Honorary Alumnus Award; Outstanding Educator Award from Lydia’s Education and Charitable Organization; and an Outstanding Leadership Award from the South Central Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Her listings include Who’s Who Among Women in Science; Outstanding Educator of America;. Dr. Thornton is immediate past president of the Missouri City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, President of the Choice Foundation, Incorporated, vice-president of the Board of Directors of The 3-D Mathematics Academy, advisory member to The Ivy Educational and Charitable Foundation of Houston, member of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, and golden life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Dr. Thornton was married to her college sweetheart, Tull Thornton, III a Licensed Professional Counselor and Real Estate Developer whom she leaves to treasure memories of her celebrated life are: her beloved daughter, Dr. Wanda Laurie Mott-Russell (Bill); her two grandsons Manning Mott, III and Malik Mott; and many other relatives, friends and colleagues who will truly miss her. Her daughter, Attorney Yvonne Denise Thornton, preceded her in death.
Services will be held on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 11:00 am at the Kingdom Builders’ Center – 6011 West Orem Dr., Houston, TX 77085. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the Evelyn Thornton Legacy Endowment % Office of Development, Prairie View A&M University, P. O. Box 519/ MS/1200, Prairie View, TX 77446.