Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Wednesday, August 05, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Death of professor shocks, saddens Rice community

By Christine Jeon     2/1/12 6:00pm

Patrick Thornton, adjunct professor in the Department of Sport Management died on Jan. 15 after being diagnosed last November with cancer in his spine. He was 53.

This semester, Thornton was scheduled to teach Sport Finance, a class that examines the financial principles and economic theory significant to the sport market.

Baker College sophomore Evan Stackpole said Thornton was not present the first day of class, and instead, the sport management professors said they would be splitting the responsibilities for the class until Thornton came back.

"To me, it seemed as though for something like that to be said, Professor Thornton was not doing well," Stackpole said. "They didn't provide us with much details."

A week later, on Jan. 16, sport management students received an email titled "Dr. Thornton." The message read, "Today, Rice University and the Sport Management Program said, ‘Goodbye' to Professor Patrick Thornton [...]"

"It was shocking because he was a really nice person and a great professor," Stackpole said. "It took me a while to realize he was gone."

Thornton had been teaching at Rice since 2005. He was also an adjunct professor at the South Texas College of Law and University of Houston and a faculty member at Houston Baptist University.

Thornton is survived by his wife Alison and his two sons, Sam, age 9 and George, age six. He was a native Houstonian, attended Lamar High School and Southwest Texas State University, and received a master's degree from Rice, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Thornton contributed several textbooks to the sports management program. He published two books, Sports Law and Sports Ethics, with his third book, Baseball and the Law, scheduled to be published very soon.

Sport Management Lecturer Jason Sosa said it would have been a shame to cancel the Sport Finance class since Thornton had been dedicated to continuing it – making the syllabus and posting reading materials and articles – all while receiving treatment.

"We didn't think it would be fair to Pat," Sosa said.

Sosa said Thornton served as a great mentor.

"When I decided to look at law schools, he and I talked and discussed advantages and disadvantages," Sosa said. "Every week during my first year, he would check on me, and he invested a lot of his personal time to make sure I did well my first year in law school."

Sosa agreed to report his grades to Thornton at the end of his first semester and was able to share his grades with his mentor before his passing.

"I was at peace letting my mentor know that I'm still doing good," Sosa said.

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 7/23/20 11:03am
Midtown Fiesta by Innovation District closes, drawing attention to food inaccessibility in the area

The Fiesta Mart in Midtown at 4200 San Jacinto St., which was leased from Rice University and is across the street from the currently under construction Ion building, closed on July 10. The store serviced both Midtown and Third Ward residents and the closure has drawn attention to the issue of food access in the Third Ward, which is classified as a food desert.

NEWS 7/8/20 6:04am
Historians share perspectives on monuments and racism, following recent discussions about William Marsh Rice

"The model [for discussions] has long been [that] it's a small group, usually of men, but a small group has met behind closed doors and made these decisions. And I think what all of us in all of our different work have said over and over and over again is that this has to be a public conversation. All stakeholders need to be involved in these decision-making processes,“ Anne Twitty, panelist at Monday’s webinar, said.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.