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William Turner headshot

William Turner 

Provost's Office

Distinguished Professor


Turner holds a Distinguished Professorship in the College of Leadership and Public Service and is Special Counsel to the President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. An expert in family, community, and public health, Turner’s extensive and lauded academic career has included tenured professorships at Vanderbilt University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Kentucky. From 2007 to 2009, he worked for then Senator Barack Obama as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow to then Senator, now President, Barack Obama. His program of research is conceptually grounded in systems theory and other ecological perspectives, and his research has centered on themes related African American family strengths and their relationship to health and mental health prevention and intervention. Recently, his teaching and research interests are focused on the intersections of hope, justice, policy and faith. He is the principal investigator of the HOPE Laboratory, a translational research program that focuses on the application of hope theories, systems theories and positive psychology principles in systems and organizations at multiples levels. Turner will work as the research advisor for the Leadership and Public Service master’s students and lend his expertise in multiple courses throughout the year.