NSU’s Turner named Higher Education Hall of Fame inductee


Source: Northeastern State University 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —Dr. Steve Turner, the retiring president of Northeastern State University, has been recognized as one of 12 inductees into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame for 2023.

Turner, along with the other 2023 Higher Education Hall of Fame inductees, will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 6.

NSU’s top administrator receives this distinction after a more than 30-year career in higher education. After nearly a decade of oilfield work, Turner started his higher education journey in his late 20s, becoming the first in his family to graduate with a college degree.

From his first campus job as a police officer to his current role, Turner has held various positions in higher education, including vice president for administration and finance and executive assistant to the president for governmental relations and economic development at East Central University before starting his tenure as NSU’s 19th president in January 2012.

“It has been a privilege to serve in each campus role I’ve held throughout my career,” Turner said. “Every day that I’ve been able to play a role in furthering higher education in Oklahoma has been a dream realized, and for that I am grateful.”

In his nearly 12 years as NSU President, Turner has facilitated projects and initiatives that will benefit generations of future students and campus community members.

Under his leadership, the RiverHawks Scholar Program became a reality as Oklahoma’s first inclusive four-year post-secondary certificate program for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. This program continues to fulfill the dreams of many Oklahomans seeking a new standard of living.

Turner remained a steadfast champion for the university throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He was committed to moving forward safely, encouraging the NSU family and partners to work together to ensure the critical occupations that drive our health, economy and knowledge as industries were prepared to take on the new normal.

With his leadership, NSU completed the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the institution’s history, raising more than $27 million to support student scholarships, faculty research and facility improvements as part of the Preserve our past. ENSUre Our Future campaign.

Turner also led several new construction projects during his NSU tenure, including the building of the NSU Event Center, RiverHawks Wellness Center, Isabel Cobb Hall, the NSU Academic Success Center, the Innovation Discovery Education Academy, the Battenfield-Carletti Investment Lab, the NSU Veterans Monument and the River’s Edge Coffee Shop.

He also oversaw a number of major renovation projects such as Wilson Hall, Seminary Hall, the RiverHawk Shoppe, Beta Pond, the John Vaughan Library and Circle of Excellence Plaza.

Most recently under Turner’s leadership, NSU’s Oklahoma College of Optometry broke ground on a $39.3 million-dollar optometry complex that will feature state-of-the-art equipment, up-to-date classroom technology and specialized clinics for low vision, vision therapy, vision rehabilitation, primary care and contact lenses, as well as a surgical suite for an expanded scope of practice. It is the largest capital project in NSU history and will better serve students and patients in northeast Oklahoma.

While Turner will retire as NSU’s president on Aug. 1, his legacy is sure to leave a positive impact on campus for years to come.

“We sincerely thank each of you for making NSU our home for what will be 11 and a half years.” Turner said to the NSU campus community. “This season is ending, and a new one begins later this summer. NSU’s future is bright.”

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