Rhodes College President Marjorie Hass announced today that Dr. Sherry Turner ’84 will join the college in a new position as the vice president of strategic initiatives on Feb. 18.
Turner, who will serve as a member of the college’s senior leadership team, will be responsible for helping Rhodes bring to life the ambitious goals outlined in the college’s emerging strategic plan, expected to be approved by the Board of Trustees in 2019. She will also provide executive leadership in developing and implementing a strategic campus vision for diversity and equity.
“Dr. Turner brings a wealth of experience and leadership to Rhodes College,” says Hass. “I am delighted to welcome her to our team as we work together to implement our strategic plan and to strengthen our diversity efforts on campus.”
A 10-person committee, comprised of Rhodes faculty, staff, and students, oversaw the national search for the vice president of strategic initiatives position.
“Sherry brings tremendous experience building relationships across campuses and with the community outside of campus,” says Jennifer D. Sciubba, the Stanley J. Buckman Professor of International Studies and member of the search committee. “Her analytical skills and experience—including as a distinguished alumna— make her the perfect person to take Rhodes’ forthcoming strategic plan from vision to action.”
“Dr. Turner not only brings substantial experience in leadership, problem solving, and relationship building in higher education, but as a Rhodes alumna, she understands the importance of aligning institutional goals with the needs of our entire community,” committee member Cody Stockton ’19 says.
Meredith Davis, associate dean of students, inclusion, and involvement, who also served on the search team says, “Dr. Turner brings the invaluable assets of strong cultural competency, active listening, and institutional forecasting to Rhodes.”
“With her extensive experience guiding policy at several liberal arts colleges and her practical, data-oriented perspective as a scholar of psychology, Dr. Turner is an ideal person for this uniquely challenging vice-presidential position,” says assistant professor of theatre and search committee member Joy Brooke Fairfield.
Turner, a native Memphian, formerly served as the director of institutional success and support for United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). There, she worked with 37 UNCF member institutions to help them fulfill their strategic goals. Turner oversaw technical assistance, consulting services, and professional development aimed at building capacity in accreditation, fiscal affairs, enrollment management, institutional advancement, and institutional effectiveness.
“As an alumna, I am very proud of the quality of a Rhodes education,” Turner says. “I have watched, with great interest, how Rhodes has transformed itself over the years, but never imagined that I would return to my alma mater.”
Prior to joining UNCF, Turner was the executive director and CEO of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. While at the AUC Consortium, she led joint strategic initiatives for Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse School of Medicine. She also founded and directed the AUC Consortium’s Communiversity, a community-focused, life-long learning institute that connects colleges and communities through educational programs and service.
She previously served as vice president for student affairs at Spelman College, where she was responsible for a host of programs and services that facilitated learning and promoted student success and well-being. While at Spelman, she also served as the president’s chief of staff, a position in which she managed the completion of presidential initiatives and special projects across divisional lines.
“This is an exciting and pivotal time for the college – a new president, a new strategic direction and priorities, and purposeful conversations about Rhodes’ identity and its impact on the world,” Turner says. “I am looking forward to working with President Hass, the senior leadership team, faculty, staff, administrators, and students to accomplish Rhodes’ new institutional goals and to ensure that the college has an even greater positive impact for students, Memphis, and the world. Achieving success will require everyone’s engagement.”
Turner earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology-anthropology and sociology from Rhodes. She returned to Rhodes as a William Randolph Hearst Dissertation Fellow after earning her master’s degree in developmental psychology from North Carolina State University. After receiving her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she went on to spend more than a decade at Mount Holyoke College, where she was a member of the faculty as well as an assistant dean and ombudsperson. Turner also holds a master’s in theological studies from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.