Death of professor shocks, saddens Rice community
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
Rice’s James Tour and YouTuber ‘Professor Dave’ debate the origins of life
Dave Farina of the YouTube channel ProfessorDaveExplains came to Rice to debate organic chemistry professor James Tour on the topic of abiogenesis, the scientific theory that life on Earth originated from non-living compounds. The debate occurred May 19 in a full Keck Hall, with up to 2,800 viewers watching the event livestreamed on YouTube.
‘Always laughing, always smiling and singing’: Family, colleagues remember Triny Carranza
María Trinidad “Triny” Carranza, cook III at the Cohen House, passed away May 7 at the age of 50. Carranza’s daughter said Triny’s cause of death was complications from blood clots. Hailing from the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, Triny visited Houston in her early twenties and chose to stay after meeting her future husband, Salvador Carranza, in the same apartment complex. Once settled, she began working in the cooking industry that, according to her husband, she was in love with.
Old Sid to be demolished, 2 new residential colleges expected by fall 2026
Rice intends to build two new residential colleges with an accompanying servery, President Reggie DesRoches and Vice President for Finance and Administration Kelly Fox announced in an email sent May 19. The old Sid Richardson College building, opened in 1971, will be demolished as “part of this project,” the announcement added.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.