Lee Thornton, University of Maryland Merrill College dean, dead at 71

Lee Thornton. (Photo:

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Lee Thornton, a journalist who covered the White House for CBS and served as dean for the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, has died.

In a post on its website, Merrill College said Thornton died Wednesday after a brief illness. She was 71.

Thornton worked for CBS and CNN. NPR said Thornton co-hosted the weekend edition of "All Things Considered" in the mid-1980s.

Merrill College said Thornton joined the faculty in 1997, teaching television news reporting and production and documentary filmmaking.

She was also creator and host of "Front & Center," a series of interviews with journalists produced by Merrill College's cable station.

Thornton served as interim dean at Merrill in 2008 and was interim associate provost for equity and diversity in 2011.