Former Indian Thornton Tells AU to 'Live With A Purpose'

Former Indian Thornton Tells AU to "Live With A Purpose"

By Joe Pelletier T-G Staff Writer (Used with permission from Ashland Times-Gazette) 

March 20, 2015 ASHLAND, Ohio - The words of former Cleveland Indian and business executive André Thornton were simple.

"Live with a purpose," Thornton urged the audience Thursday evening at Ashland University's John C. Myers Convocation Center. "Apply what you learn. Live to make a difference."

Thornton, nicknamed "Thunder" during his playing days with the Indians from 1977 to 1987, was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Gordon E. Heffern Applying Christian Ethics in Business Lecture Series, memorializing the late Cleveland businessman Heffern, famous for advocating Christian ethics in the workplace.

Heffern's code of ethics for Society National Bank (of which he was chairman) later became a national model adopted by the American Banking Association.

Two of Heffern's grandchildren studied at Ashland University, inspiring Dauch School of Business dean Jeff Russell and the university to create the lecture series.

Thornton first met Heffern in 1977, and the pair became close as Thornton began his business career after his baseball one ended.

Thornton currently is the president and CEO of ASW Global, a supply-chain company based in Ohio.

His hourlong speech touched on a variety of topics but crystallized the importance of ethics in the workplace.

"When we talk about ethics in today's world and today's business, it starts with yourself," Thornton told the crowd of 200. "Who is the leader of my company? Who is the person that our clients look to to set the standard as to how we will operate? Whether in business or politics, we have a civic responsibility to be examples to the people around us."

The two-time American League All-Star also offered a story from a spring training game when he found himself next to Hank Aaron.

"There's a reason why some guys hit .330 and others, like myself, hit .250," Thornton said. "They could focus not only on what the pitch was, but they could also determine where they were going to hit it ... Hank was focused like that."

In attendance Thursday was Heffern's widow, Margie, who was given a brass eagle by the university.

Russell said the endowment for the lecture series continues to grow. He expects this to become an annual event at the university.

"This is a pivotal time," Russell told the audience. "This is a pivotal moment in how to help our students learn Christian- and faith-based ethics to navigate their workplaces. That's very important."

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###