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Celebrating 25 Years of the W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship

W burghardt turner
W. Burghardt Turner

The Stony Brook University Graduate School will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Dr. W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship program on Friday, October 5. Part conference, part reunion, the celebration will be comprised of several presentations by alumni and current fellows in a variety of formats including panel discussions, research symposia, reflection talks, a networking fair and a diversity exhibition. The event also features a special guest speaker, Frances Colón, PhD,  Deputy Science and Technology Advisor to U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The event will culminate with an evening gala that will serve as both a celebration of the 25th anniversary and a welcome for Stony Brook’s 2012 Turner Fellows (link to schedule of events).

The Turner Fellowship Program is Stony Brook’s branch of the SUNY-wide Graduate Diversity Fellowship Program. Established in 1987 by the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus and administered by the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the fellowship addresses inequalities in graduate education by providing support to outstanding candidates from historically underrepresented backgrounds to encourage their successful completion of doctoral, professional and master’s degrees at SUNY campuses.

Stony Brook University named its branch of the program after the late W. Burghardt Turner, emeritus professor of history at Stony Brook and influential advocate for civil rights on Long Island. Turner, or “Burg” as he was called, was known for his tireless struggle for human and civil rights on Long Island including considerable efforts to help establish the Suffolk County chapter of the NAACP. Burg was pursuing a doctoral degree in history when the need to support his young family overshadowed this pursuit. Unfortunately, due to many of the economic and social obstacles that the Turner Fellowship now works to overcome, Burg was unable to finish his dissertation. In 2007, Stony Brook University granted Burg a well-deserved Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

The Turner Fellowship Program has given more than 500 talented minority students the opportunity to achieve their academic dreams of completing an advanced degree without compromising their goals due to the economic and social challenges that Turner faced in his time. Since its inception, the Turner Program has supported its fellows with funding, programming, mentorship and career development support to ensure fellows achieve this dream. Turner Fellows have gone on to prestigious careers in the academy, industry and public service; they live and work in 14 countries around the world and serve in a variety of disciplines including the biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine, humanities, engineering and the arts. The emphasis on community and mentoring fostered by the Turner Program has resulted in an ethos of service and mentorship among former Turners who now, as faculty members and community leaders, are committed to nurturing the next generation of scholars and helping to build a future that embodies the ideals of inclusion and support that stem from their experiences as Turner Fellows.

“Once a Turner, Always a Turner: Turner Strength in Self, the Community and the Academy,” will present an opportunity to highlight the work that Turner alumni engage in to foster this same sense of community, service and academic excellence in their own careers. The deadline for advance tickets is Friday, September 28; tickets will continue to be available at the door. For more information contact the Turner Fellowship office at (631) 632-9560 or visit the Turner website.

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