Meet a Donor

Dr. Rebecca O. Turner

The University of Montevallo is pleased to announce the establishment of the Dr. Rebecca O. Turner Endowed Gap Scholarship for social work majors.

Often UM students face emergency financial constraints that jeopardize their ability to complete their coursework and ultimately delay or completely halt their dreams of becoming a UM alum. This scholarship will provide emergency funding to social work students who have fallen on financial hardship through no fault of their own. Dr. Rebecca O. Turner presents a certificate to University of Montevallo student Mary Ellie Tarpley.

Dr. Rebecca Turner has been a loyal alum of the University of Montevallo since receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work in 1971. She earned a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in social work from The University of Alabama and has been a lifetime social work practitioner, educator and higher education administrator.

Turner began her career in social work education in 1978 as an instructor of field education at Auburn University. She left Auburn to join the faculty at Jacksonville State University in 1981, first as an instructor, then as a full professor. Turner instituted the social work program at JSU, served as the first program director and later chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work.

In 1998, Turner was appointed to the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at JSU, becoming the first woman to hold a vice president position at the institution. In that role, Turner was instrumental in developing JSU’s faculty, implementing the current strategic plan, creating the university’s first doctoral program, leading the SACS reaccreditation process and managing the overall effectiveness of the institution. She led the development of academic programs that were relevant for their time.

Turner’s dedication to the mission, values and spirit of the social work profession is exemplified by her lifetime of work to improve social work education at the local, state and national levels. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Social Work Education and the Association of Baccalaureate Social Workers, where she has served on several editorial boards.

In 2020, the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association presented Turner with the Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award. Turner also received the UM Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumna Award in 2016.

Turner credits Montevallo with laying the foundation for her long and storied career in social work and higher education. She says that she takes pride in the University of Montevallo and its history, especially in social work education.

Turner said, “At this stage of life, it is important to help students when they need it most and to help the program that prepared me for my career.”