“Thank you very much, thank you very much, thank you very much.” These words uttered with sincerity by Professor Emeritus Thomas C. Turner rung throughout the reception in the Belk College of Business on June 12 to honor his legacy.
More than 55 alumni and colleagues had gathered to thank retired faculty member Thomas C. Turner for his impact on both the Department of Accounting and its graduates, and he in turn thanked the crowd for their generosity.
“The reputation of a university is determined by the accomplishments of its graduates. And I want to congratulate you on your accomplishments, you ought to be proud of them, I know I’m proud of you. Over the years, a lot of good things have come my way, but this program to raise money for the room and particularly for these scholarships is a significant thing. I thoroughly appreciate what you have done,” Turner said.
As of June 30, 149 alumni and friends have contributed more than $230,000 to create an endowed scholarship to support undergraduate accounting students, provide additional funding for the Thomas C. Turner Teaching Award, and support the major renovation of the Department of Accounting conference room named in Turner's honor.
Turner arrived at UNC Charlotte in the fall of 1966 – just one year after the institution became part of the UNC system.
“From four accounting graduates in the class of 1967 to nearly 5,000 since then, he helped develop the accounting department into a premier program, one that continues today as part of the Belk College of Business,” said Dean Steve Ott. “Tom Turner - and his dedication to teaching, integrity and ethics – is valued throughout the College and he continues to inspire others today.”
Hughlene Burton, Chair of the Accounting Department, said the goal was to raise $200,000 – but alumni and friends went well beyond the goal and the fundraising is still continuing. “This goes to show what an influence Tom has had on our lives,” she said.
Former UNC Charlotte Trustee Gene Johnson ’73, ’14 said the campaign happened as a result of alumni support for Turner – and the desire to honor him. Both Gene and his wife Vickie graduated in accounting and took classes with Turner and have kept in touch with him for more than 40 years.
“I was really amazed not only by his knowledge, but teaching was at the core of who he really is. It was fun to go to his classes, it was challenging to go to his classes, and I enjoyed being his student assistant. The foundation that he laid here is not something you often find in every college –Tom insisted on teaching first and he really cared about his students, and he cared that we were prepared to go out to the workplace and be successful from day one.”
Turner’s former grading assistant, Chris Martin ‘76, said his experience at UNC Charlotte and his time with Turner had a positive impact. “I had a job before I graduated, so I had a great time here, I really enjoyed it.”
Sarah Palmer, an instructor in the Accounting Department from 1994-2003 and a recipient of the Thomas C. Turner Distinguished Teaching Award, said Turner’s legacy was evident. “It was his love of teaching, his inspiration for teaching - that was something I admired and attempted to follow.”
Former chair and longtime friend Howard Godfrey said Turner “always taught us we need to do everything we can to help a student succeed. In Tom’s book, when the students were winning, everybody wins. I remember his focus was on first-class education, with adherence to the highest standards of ethics. He also provided advice; he raised money for scholarships, and he helped people get jobs.”
Turner was also active in UNC Charlotte athletics, serving as chair of the Athletics Committee at UNC Charlotte, and the faculty representative of the NCAA conference while on campus.
Your gifts make a difference to the students and faculty of the Belk College of Business. To make a gift to the Thomas C. Turner Fund, contact Belk College Director of Development Colin O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org or make a gift online.