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Dr. William H. Turner, champion for Appalachian, to speak at Martin Luther King Jr. chapel service

Dr. William H. Turner, champion for Appalachian, to speak at Martin Luther King Jr. chapel service
Dr. William H. Turner to speak at Campbellsville University chapel service Jan. 22.

By Ariel C. Emberton, staff writer/photographer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. William H. Turner, professor, writer, speaker and consultant, will speak at the Campbellsville University Martin Luther King Jr. chapel service on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m., 401 N. Hoskins Ave., Campbellsville, Ky.

According to his website, during his professional career, Turner studied and worked on behalf of marginalized communities, “helping them create opportunities in the larger world while not abandoning their important cultural ties.” He has conducted research on African-American communities in Appalachia.

He studied economic systems and social structures in the south and Latino communities in the south west during his time as an academic and consultant. “What he strives for on behalf of his clients and their communities is what we all want: prosperity, understanding and respect,” the website says.

In 2017, Turner retired after serving as the research scientist leader at the Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. He served as the dean of arts and sciences and interim president at Kentucky State University, vice president for multicultural affairs at the University of Kentucky and Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies and Regional Ambassador at Berea College. He also held positions at Duke University and Winston-Salem State University.

Turner co-edited the book “Blacks in Appalachia” and an essay published in the “Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.”

He was honored as the Christian Appalachian Project “Person of the Year” in 1994 and named the “Distinguished Alumni Exemplar” in 2006 for Norte Dame University. In 2007, Turner was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. He was also recognized in 2008 as the Dr. Martin Luther King Citizen of the Year on the basis of “advocating for the rights and expanded educational opportunities for people in Appalachian Kentucky.”

In 2009, the Appalachian Studies Association honored Turner for a lifetime of service to the Appalachian region. Also, in 2009, he was recommended by members of the Kentucky delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives to President Barack Obama to serve as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Turner received his Bachelor of Science in Sociology at the University of Kentucky, attended the Foreign Affairs Scholars Program at Howard University and obtained his Master of Science in Sociology from Notre Dame University.

Notre Dame University is also where Turner received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Anthropology. He did his post-doctoral at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University.

He was born the fifth of 10 children in Lynch, Ky. in Harlan County. His grandfathers, father, four uncles and older brother were coal miners.

He and his wife, Vivian, the retired president of the R.J. Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, N.C., live near their children and grandchildren in Houston.

Chapel is designed to provide opportunities for corporate worship and exposure through a variety of informative speakers and presentations.

All chapels are open to the public free of charge and are televised live on WLCU (Comcast Cable channel 10 and digital channel 15) and are streamed live on the internet at

For information about chapel, call the Office of Campus Ministries at (270) 789-5227.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 14,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region.  The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.