College Mourns the Passing of Dr. Thomas Chilton

Posted on February 17, 2022 by CEPS

Dr. Thomas Chilton standing in front of the College of Education nd Professional Studies. data-lightbox='featured'

The College of Education and Professional Studies mourns the passing of Dr. Thomas Chilton, long-time professor and associate dean, who recently celebrated 50 years of association with the college. 

Chilton completed his Ed.D. in Health Education from the University of Tennessee and began his career at the University of South Alabama on Sept. 1, 1972, as an assistant professor of health education in the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Studies. He was promoted to the rank of professor in 1983 and served as an associate dean of academic and financial affairs in the college from 1986 to 2012. During this period, Chilton also served two terms as interim dean of the college. He then retired from the associate dean position. Between 2009 to 2021, Chilton served the college part-time as director of international partnerships and collaborated on faculty exchange and visiting scholar programs along with various international student recruitment initiatives. 

Chilton received the then-College of Education's Distinguished Career Award in 2013 in recognition of sustained excellence as a professor and administrator and for his support to the college's mission and to improving our community. Between 1995 and 1997, Chilton designed the current space that today is the College of Education and Professional Studies in University Commons and coordinated the move of the college from the Instructional Learning Laboratory Building. In 1996, he was appointed to a University committee charged with beginning online education. Between 1998 and 2011, Chilton served as director of USA Online, the University of South Alabama's learning management system. He helped the University take one of its biggest leaps. In 1999, USA launched its first batch of online courses: a total of nine, spread across education, business and nursing.

"Dr. Chilton was a knowledgeable and capable leader who skillfully guided the college throughout his years as associate dean and who was deeply committed to the University's mission and goals," said Dr. John Kovaleek, interim dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies.

In his years as a professor, Chilton's primary research interest involved computerized nutritional assessment. In 1974, Chilton conducted a landmark study with Dr. William Gilley, then associate professor of health and physical education, who together developed a mainframe program to analyze food nutritional content in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use by nurses and dietitians. Gilley also served as an associate dean and director of graduate studies in the College of Education until his retirement in 2007. 

Chiton's many notable administrative and service contributions contributed to not only the college but also to athletics, the University community and the Alabama State Department of Education. Chiton served as assistant chair of Health and Physical Education (1977-1983) and worked with then dean of the College of Education, Dr. George Uhlig, and helped initiate the move of the U.S. Sports Academy from Wisconsin, where it was then housed within the Department of Health and Physical Education at South for several years, He also served as the interim athletic director (1980), golf coach (1980-1984), and chair of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Studies (1983-1985). His contributions to the Alabama State Department of Education include State Certification Officer for teacher preparation programs (1985-2012) and chairman of the Alabama State Department of Education General Education Committee (1995-2005). 

A lifelong advocate of physical fitness, Chilton was known for being physically active and enjoying running for health and fitness. He was a top four finisher in the long jump at the NCAA Track and Field Championships and was a member of the U.S. Track team and the U.S. Olympic Training team. He was ranked as high as seventh overall in the United States in 1968 and was a national master's champion in the long jump in 1972 and 1978.

Dr. Andrea M. Kent, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said Chilton was a well-respected colleague in the College of Education and Professional Studies. 

"Throughout his career, Dr. Chilton positively impacted the lives of countless students and faculty through his knowledge, expertise, mentorship and leadership,” said Kent, who previously served as the college's dean. "His unwavering commitment to the college and the university for 50 years is unprecedented and his legacy will continue for many years to come.”

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