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William H. Turner Appointed Chair in Appalachian Studies

Dr. Chad Berry, director of the Berea College Appalachian Center, has announced the appointment of Dr. William H. Turner to the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College, beginning fall 2007.

William H. Turner

Turner will teach and pursue several research projects on Appalachia, including one on African American churches in the Region. He also will work with faculty, students and staff to facilitate the integration of Appalachian Studies scholarship and materials into courses at Berea.

“I am delighted that Bill Turner will be coming to Berea, especially because in addition to his charisma and teaching and research, he will help us convey the richness and diversity of the Appalachian experience to the campus and beyond,” said Berry. “Given Berea’s historic commitments to both interracial education and to Appalachia, Bill is a most appropriate choice.”

The NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies, established through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a rotating endowed chair in Appalachian Studies. The appointment is normally for one year and may be renewed for up to three years. Based in the Berea College Appalachian Center, the chair has been held by humanities scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Turner will succeed current chair holder Dr. Tammy Horn, whose appointment ends this academic year. Horn’s research interests include the history and culture of beekeeping, and she is the author of the best-selling “Bees in America: How the Honeybee Shaped a Nation” (University Press of Kentucky 2005). Her recent research has focused on the effects of mountain top removal coal mining on honey bees.

“Tammy has contributed greatly to the programming and to the other work of the Appalachian Center,” Berry said, “and we have been enriched by her presence this past year.”

Turner is a sociologist whose specialties include the experience of African Americans in Appalachia, diversity in higher education and the sociology of historical black colleges. He brings more than 30 years of research, administrative and teaching experience to his new position, including serving as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Black and Appalachian Studies at Berea College from 1988-89.

Most recently, Turner served as Vice President for University Engagement and Associate Provost for Multicultural and Academic Affairs at the University of Kentucky. Prior to that, he served as interim president of Kentucky State University, where he had also held an earlier position as Dean and Associate professor of sociology.

From 1984-2002, he served as chair and associate professor of sociology at Winston-Salem State University. Turner was assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky from 1979 through 1983, where he also served as an adjunct faculty member with UK’s Appalachian Center. He also has taught, performed research and held administrative posts at several other colleges and universities including Fisk University and Howard University. From 1990 to 1991, Turner was Visiting Research Professor at Brandeis University. His experience also includes serving from 1979-1991 as a research associate to Alex Haley, author of "Roots."

A freelance journalist/writer since 1980, Turner contributed occasionally on issues affecting blacks in Appalachia through "Appalachian Voices" in the Lexington Herald-Leader. His essays also appeared weekly from 1986 through 1996 in ten black newspapers in North Carolina, syndicated by the North Carolina Black Media Group. He is also a member of the Trotter Group, a Harvard University-based network of black journalists.

Turner’s books include "Blacks in Appalachia," co-edited with Edward Cabbell and published in 1985 by the University Press of Kentucky, "Black Colleges: Essays on Cultural Legitimacy and Economic Efficiency," "Appalachian Heritage," and "The Path of My Pilgrimage: The Autobiography of Marshall B. Bass." He assisted in the production and wrote the afterward to the 2004 book, "African-American Miners and Migrants: The Eastern Kentucky Social Club," published by the University of Illinois Press.

A native of Lynch, in southeastern, Ky., Turner received a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Kentucky and earned his master's degree in sociology and a doctorate in sociology and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame.

He and his wife of 38 years, Vivian Love Turner, presently reside in Lexington. The couple have three adult children, Kisha, Jomo and Hodari, and three grandchildren.

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