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February 27, 2015

African-American History Month Spotlight: John B. Turner

John B. Turner was the first African-American dean at Case Western Reserve University, serving as dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences (now the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences) 1968-1973. He was also the first African-American dean at any school of social work in the country.

John B. Turner

Dr. Turner was born 2/28/1922 in Ft. Valley, Georgia. He attended Morehouse College, earning the A.B. degree in 1946. He received the M.S.S.A. degree from Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Science (MSASS) in 1948 and the Doctor of Social Work from the Graduate School of WRU in 1959.

His academic career began as instructor at the School of Social Work, Atlanta University in 1950. He became lecturer in Social Work at MSASS in 1955. His major field of interest was community organization in social work. Beginning in 1957 Turner was instructor (1957-1959), assistant professor (1959-1961), associate professor (1961-1963) and professor (1963-1974) of social work at MSASS. He served as associate dean 1967-1968 and was appointed dean of the School effective 7/1/1968, serving 5 years. After stepping down from the deanship in 1973, Dr. Turner took a sabbatical leave at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. He resigned his position as professor at MSASS in 1974 in order to become the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). He eventually became dean at UNC, retiring in 1992.

While he was an academic by training he had many accomplishments outside the university setting. During World War II he was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and member of the Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American commissioner in the city of East Cleveland. Turner’s community service activities included the Cleveland Institute of Art, Karamu House, Welfare Federation of Cleveland, City of Cleveland Advisory Committee on Urban Renewal, East Cleveland Citizens Advisory Committee, Businessman’s Interracial Committee, Jewish Community Federation, and others.

Dr. Turner’s professional involvement included the National Association of Social Workers, National Conference on Social Welfare, and Council on Social Work Education. He served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Health, and the U. S. Committee of the International Council on Social Work.

Turner held a Fulbright Scholarship, studying in Egypt. He returned to the Mideast several times throughout his career. He served the State Department in Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.

In 1947 Turner married Marian Wilson. They had 2 children: Marian and Charles. John B. Turner died 1/30/2009 in North Carolina.

You can read past blog entries about African-American history at Case Western Reserve University from 2014, 2013 and 2011.

Posted by hxy2 at February 27, 2015 05:47 PM

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