AZUSA, Calif. — Tri-Cities, Wash. resident John M. Thornton, Ph.D., was named professor of the Leung Endowed Chair of Accounting and Ethical Auditing in Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business and Management, announced Ilene Bezjian, DBA, dean of the school. Thornton, an accounting and auditing expert and Certified Public Accountant (CPA), assumes the role July 1, 2011.

APU received a gift of $1 million from L.P. and Bobbi Leung to establish the endowed chair, part of a total $8.4 million gift to expand the university’s accounting major and establish the LP and Timothy Leung School of Accounting. The gift helps to further develop the accounting program with an emphasis on strong academics combined with practical training, giving high priority to teaching ethics.

“Dr. Thornton was the perfect candidate for the position,” said Bezjian. “We searched for more than three years to find a qualified individual with auditing, research, and teaching expertise together with a solid Christian commitment. Dr. Thornton will assist with our AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business] accreditation process and lead the research arm of the accounting school. He will also work with the Accounting Advisory Board formed by friends of Azusa Pacific University. He is a great fit for APU.”

As chair, Thornton will help develop the accounting program, establish an annual symposium on ethical auditing, lead research, and teach.

“The chance to encourage students to grow in their love for God and others while they develop a high level of competency, integrity, and service as budding accounting professionals would be enough,” said Thornton. “But to add to it a chance to develop and host a national symposium on accounting ethics and auditing, and work with an advisory board of outstanding like-minded professionals, all within the Christian scholarly community that Azusa Pacific University has assembled, is a truly unique challenge and privilege.”

“Accounting and stewardship require more than good intentions,” added Thornton. “Today’s financial woes differ little from the past. Corruption, greed, and selfishness need an antidote, and I’d love to see APU’s accounting students be that solution.”


Thornton previously served as an associate professor and academic director for Washington State University’s Tri-Cities Business Program, where he taught for 11 years. Prior to that, he served four years as assistant professor and director of faculty development in the Department of Management at the United States Air Force Academy. He also brings experience working in tax and auditing in public accounting firms (1986-89), and has consulted in financial reporting litigation and auditing litigation.

Thornton holds a B.S. in Accounting from Central Washington University, and a master’s and Ph.D. in accounting from Washington State University.

Additional Experience:

  • Chair, Professionalism and Ethics Committee, American Accounting Association (2009-present)
  • President Elect, Public Interest Section, American Accounting Association (current)
  • Certified Public Accountant, Washington Society of CPAs, since 1989
  • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Member of several editorial boards, including Issues in Accounting Education, Accounting and the Public Interest, Research on Professional Responsibility in Ethics in Accounting, Journal of Accounting Education, and Journal of Forensic Accounting
  • Author of more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed publications
  • Presenter at numerous regional and national conferences and seminars
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Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical, Christian university committed to God First and excellence in higher education. With 53 undergraduate majors, 37 master’s degrees, 21 credentials, 7 doctoral programs, and 5 certificates, the university offers its more than 9,200 students a quality education on campus, online, and at seven regional centers throughout Southern California.