A farewell and a journey into retirement

August 29, 2023

Vickie Thornton

Vickie Thornton, Operations Manager and Building Coordinator, LSU Chemistry

Throughout her 26 years of dedicated service with the LSU Department of Chemistry, Vickie Tate Thornton has not only been an invaluable asset, but she will be leaving an indelible mark on the very fabric of the department. 

In 1997, Mrs. Thornton transferred from LSU Press to the Department of Chemistry as an Administrative Assistant to Professor Isiah Warner. She was soon promoted as the Administrative Assistant to the Chair, where she worked for eight department chairs over 18 years. 

In September 2015, Mrs. Thornton became the department’s Operations Manager, overseeing departmental buildings management, inventory, and safety compliance. In addition, she also served as the backup for the Shipping and Receiving Manager.

As an Operations Manager, Mrs. Thornton improved the department’s efficiency, facilities, and safety; she modernized the departmental shipping and receiving process in which all chemicals are logged into the LSU Safety Office chemical inventory and bar-coded before release to researchers. She also computerized the disbursement and tracking of cryogens. 

Mrs. Thornton worked with other departments on chemistry lab renovations and research laboratories. She improved safety protocols and worked with the fire department, arranging hazard tours with fire and rescue workers for three chemistry buildings: Choppin Hall, Virginia Rice Williams Hall, and the Chemistry and Materials Building. As she focused on ensuring everything was in working order, she also dedicated herself to upholding the aesthetic appeal of all the buildings. 

Digital monitors were placed in building lobbies, eliminating the need for paper event and seminar flyers. Fresh coats of paint in all the hallways and bathrooms created cleaner and brighter spaces. The recent addition of the stained glass in the Chemistry and Materials Building lobby creates a captivating visual entrance. In the near future, paintings will be added to the first floor hallway, and a free-standing sculpture will be located in front of the Chemistry and Materials Building.  

Not only did she excel in operations and building management, but Mrs. Thornton played a significant role in creating a strong sense of community among the people she worked with. Her daily presence and positive attitude cultivated camaraderie and unity. 

As the self-appointed chair of the “Lunch Cartel,” Mrs. Thornton brought together faculty, staff, and graduate students for themed potluck lunches. These themed lunches were often around holidays, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, back to school, and the most popular Halloween, where everyone was encouraged to dress up and bring a ghoulish dish. Other events included baby and wedding showers and birthdays.

Mrs. Thornton’s consistent exemplification of professionalism, dedication, and strong work ethic earned her the 2019 Chemistry Outstanding Staff Award, the 2019 Facility Services Building Coordinator Spotlight Award, and the 2019 LSU Foundation Outstanding Staff Award. These awards reflected her valuable role and positive impact on the department’s progress and success. 

After 42 years of service at LSU, Mrs. Thornton will retire on August 31, 2023. She shared that the first thing she will do in retirement is get a massage and then start working on her art portfolio for graduate school, which she hopes to begin next fall. Mrs. Thornton, who has a degree in photography with minors in painting and history, plans to pursue all three of those passions in the coming years. 

A retirement party will be held on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. in 210 Choppin Hall. The event will be an opportunity to express our appreciation, share memories, and extend our best wishes for Mrs. Thornton’s well-deserved retirement.