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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.

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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.

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February 06, 2015

Namesakes - Grace Longwell Coyle Professorship of Social Work

The first endowed chair established at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences was the Grace Longwell Coyle Chair of Social Work. A fundraising campaign was carried out beginning in 1960 by the Citizens Committee for Strengthening the School of Applied Social Sciences and by the school’s alumni association. By the campaign’s successful conclusion in 1965, nearly 800 alumni had pledged over $50,000. Gifts also came from friends of the school. A gift of $100,000 from the Hanna Final Fund brought the total raised to $276,000. The chair was established in July 1965.

Grace Longwell Coyle was born in 1892 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. from Wellesley in 1914, majoring in English. The following year Coyle received a certificate from the New York School of Social Work. She worked as a settlement worker in New York and in the coal-mining regions of western Pennsylvania. In 1928 she earned an M.A. in economics from Columbia and, in 1931, a Ph.D., also from Columbia.

In 1934 Grace Coyle became an assistant professor in Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences. She was promoted to associate professor in 1936 and professor in 1939. She pioneered in the development of social group work practice and theory and advocated for the inclusion of social science research in social work education. Professor Coyle served on the board of the Ohio Consumers League. She was president of three social work professional assocations: the National Confeence of Social Work, 1940; the American Association of Social Workers, 1942-44; and the National Council on Social Work Education, 1958-60. During World War II she worked with the War Relocation Authority to assist Japanese-Americans interned during the war. Grace Coyle was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

At her death in 1962 the School of Applied Social Sciences faculty resolution paid tribute to her professional achievements and her personal qualities:

“Grace Coyle was one of those rare people who not only talked about her belief in democracy but practiced it in her daily life. She had a profound respect for the worth and dignity of all human kind. Her ideas about democratic participation at the grass roots, her concern for opportunities for deprived groups were reflected not only in her writing and her teaching but in her activities as a member of organizations which were concerned with social action for the betterment of mankind.”

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Grace Longwell Coyle

Grace Longwell Coyle Professors and the dates they held the professorship are:
Ruby B. Pernell, 1968-1982
Arthur J. Naparstek, 1983-1987
Arthur Blum, 1987-1991
Arthur J. Naparstek, 1991-2004
Pranab Chatterjee, 2006-2008
Elizabeth M. Tracy, 2009-

Researchers interested in exploring Grace Coyle’s remarkable career of teaching, service and scholarship are welcome to use the Grace Coyle Papers in the CWRU Archives.

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