During this year’s Homecoming celebration, the UM National Alumni Association honored alumni for their outstanding contributions to the greater education community. The honorees received their awards in front of a full house in Anna Irvin Dining Hall during the Feb. 8 Recognition Luncheon. Dr. Rebecca Turner ’71 received the Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award.
Throughout her professional career, Turner has dedicated herself to making a profound difference in the state of Alabama.
Turner holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from UM, and she earned her master’s degree and doctorate in social work from The University of Alabama. She has decades of experience as a social work practitioner, educator and higher education administrator. Turner retired in 2019 after nearly 40 years at Jacksonville State University, where she most recently served as provost and vice president of academic affairs.
She is a lifetime member of the Council on Social Work Education and the Association of Baccalaureate Social Workers, where she has served on several editorial boards including the Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work and CSWE’s annual editions. Turner served on the Commission on Educational Policy, the CSWE national site visit and accreditation teams and participated in the national conference planning committee. As part of CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting, Turner conducted a pre-conference institute for new social work program directors for several years.
Turner remains loyal to the Purple Side at UM, and credits Montevallo with laying the foundation for her long and storied career in social work and higher education.
She has been the recipient of the CSWE Leadership Development Award, the National Association of Social Workers Lifetime Achievement Award and the Alabama-Mississippi Social Educators Conference Social Work Educator of the Year award.
Turner was the first female vice president at JSU, and worked to bring numerous new academic programs to the university, including its first doctoral degrees. In April 2019, the JSU Board of Trustees renamed the school’s faculty commons to the Rebecca O. Turner Faculty Commons in honor of Turner’s significant impact on the university.
She authored a lengthy list of academic publications and reports, led many academic workshops and seminars and wrote several grants during her career.
Since retiring in June 2019, Turner has continued to serve on community agency boards and participate in accreditation reviews for the Council on Social Work Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Turner and her husband reside in Jacksonville. In addition to spending time with family, Dr. Turner plans to travel and write in retirement.