Late summer showers didn’t dampen Northeastern State University President Steve Turner’s enthusiasm to welcome hundreds of students to the annual freshman march on Aug. 9.
The NSU tradition began in 2010 by taking the newest class of “Be the Change” fountain students across campus, where they are greeted to cheers by faculty, staff and upperclassmen officially welcoming them to the ‘university. Each freshman also receives a commemorative coin to mark the occasion.
“It’s always a pleasure to come together to welcome the next generation of RiverHawks to our campus,” said Turner. “Starting university can be a daunting experience for some; that’s why it’s so important to show our support to give these students the extra encouragement they need and let them know that their NSU family is there to make sure they succeed and thrive with us.
Turner also marks his 10th anniversary as the historic institution’s senior trustee this year.
A first-generation non-traditional graduate, Turner entered college in his late 20s after nearly a decade of oilfield work. From his first job on campus as a police officer to his current role as the 19th president of the NSU, Turner exemplifies how higher education can advance individuals, communities, businesses, and our state.
Over the past decade, Northeastern has focused on student-centered academics, immersive learning, workforce development, and record fundraising to support scholarships, research teachers and improving facilities.
Turner began his higher education career at East Central University in 1989, where he served as Vice President for Administration and Finance and Executive Assistant to the President for Government Relations and Economic Development at ECU . Turner assumed his presidential duties at Northeastern in January 2012, succeeding Dr. Don Betz, who held the position from 2008 to 2011.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunities that higher education has given me and my family,” Turner said. “This past decade at Northeastern has given me the opportunity to pass it on to others like me, as the institution seeks to ensure that everyone who comes together at NSU can pursue their dreams and achieve success, no matter how hard their journey takes. academic began.”
During his tenure, the NSU was strengthened in virtually every area of the institution. Beginning with Destination 2023 – a 10-year roadmap of distinction to graduation, Turner has made student-centered academics one of NSU’s top priorities.
As a strong advocate for creating work-ready professionals, Turner has worked to ensure that all NSU programs provide students with much-needed experiential learning opportunities through research opportunities, services communities, internships, clinical experiences, etc.
Having experiential learning and workforce development at the heart of NSU’s daily mission assures graduates and employers that an NSU degree truly takes them far.
Turner has also made keeping higher education accessible and affordable for all a priority of his administration.
Under his leadership and vision, the institution has set new fundraising records as it continues to seek the expansion of scholarship assistance for NSU students. As part of the Preserve Our Past campaign. The ENSUre Our Future fundraising campaign launched in 2017, NSU has raised more than $27 million to support scholarships, faculty research, and facility improvements. To put that historic total into perspective, that was 60% more than the previous three fundraising campaigns combined.
Even after the successful conclusion of the campaign in 2020, NSU continues to make progress in obtaining scholarships for students. In 2021, the Northeastern State University Foundation awarded an all-time high of more than $1 million in privately funded scholarships, eclipsing the previous record of approximately $988,000 set in 2020.
“When we work together, barriers to getting a post-secondary degree and improving lives can be overcome,” Turner said. “I am always so proud of the support of our faculty, staff, alumni, and community to the academic journey of NSU students. It is truly life changing for many, and we remain committed to helping as many people as possible achieve success once they come together here at NSU.
Other measures NSU has used over the past decade to help students save time and money include support for accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s degree programs. The institution also created the Smart Choice program which helps students make a smooth transition from earning an associate degree to a four-year degree.
The university has also expanded access to education by working with regional and state employers to structure programs to better meet the in-demand skills they need for their employees. This includes the development of certificates and micro-certificates so that students and employers can have confidence in the skills acquired.
The university also works with international partners, such as the Guangzhou College of Technology and Business in China, to provide students with study abroad opportunities. The GCTB-NSU Joint Institute of Technology at Guangzhou College of Technology and Business is one of only two programs in the United States approved by the Ministry of Education in China.
Additionally, Turner has developed the institution’s online infrastructure to better meet the needs of students, whether a traditional 18-year-old straight out of high school, a non-traditional student, a a transfer student or simply a full-time employee looking to upgrade. .
Turner also oversaw a number of major campus renovations including Wilson Hall, Seminary Hall, the RiverHawk Shoppe, Beta Pond, John Vaughn Library, and Circle of Excellence Plaza and led several new construction projects. This includes construction of the NSU Event Center, RiverHawks Wellness Center, Isabel Cobb Hall, NSU Academic Success Center, Innovation Discovery Education Academy, Battenfield-Carletti Investment Lab, NSU Veterans Monument, and River’s Edge Coffee Shop.
Turner’s leadership while at Northeastern also earned him a number of accolades, including being named one of Education magazine’s Top 10 Most Influential Educational Leaders of 2021 in the United States, Most Admired CEOs in the Journal Record in 2022 in Oklahoma and the 2018 Dr. Isabel Baker Award from the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce.
“As I reflect on the past decade at NSU, it makes me extremely optimistic about the future,” Turner said. “Our best days are still ahead of us and I’m excited to see what the coming years will bring.”