Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, ’69 and ‘70, was recognized with an honorary doctorate at Commencement in December for her significant professional impact in higher education and outstanding service to Murray State University.

“I’m very proud and honored to accept this honorary degree. Being a Murray State graduate is, to me, simply the best,” explained Thornton. “Murray State University was the opportunity I had to move forward with my career. A degree from Murray State University is a pathway to a career, but more importantly, to an enriched life.”

Her honorary doctorate degree represents the third Murray State degree Thornton has received. A native of Dawson Springs, she graduated from Murray State University in 1969 with a B.A. in English and speech and in 1970 with a master’s in communications. In 1983, she earned her Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas.

She spent nearly 40 years in higher education, serving as the President of Cuyahoga Community College, the largest community college in Ohio, for 21 years. She received the Murray State University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987 for her outstanding contributions to higher education. A legendary educator, Thornton now has her own business, Dream Catcher Educational Consulting, which works with first-time college presidents and provides consulting in the areas of higher education leadership, coaching and mentoring, talent development, job performance and resource development.

In addressing the Class of 2016, Thornton encouraged the graduates to remember where they started – Murray State University – and hold thy banner high. “This is your pathway, your beginning.” She encouraged the graduates to “dream big about your future – bigger than you can imagine…but always remember where you started.”

Throughout the years Dr. Thornton has supported Murray State University with her time, talents and treasure. In 2008, she established the Jerry Sue and John Barlow Pritchett minority scholarship in memory of brother, John Barlow Pritchett. John Barlow was a young and ambitious business student who started at Murray State University in 1970, but passed away suddenly from a brain aneurism. The endowed scholarship provides assistance for minority students from the state of Kentucky. Thornton’s friends and family surprised her at Commencement with contributions of nearly $15,000 to her family’s endowed scholarship in honor of her recognition!

Honorary gifts can be made online or by sending a check made payable to the MSU Foundation denoting the Jerry Sue and John Barlow Pritchett Minority Scholarship as the designation to: Murray State University Office of Development, 200 Heritage Hall, Murray KY 42071.


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