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Pleas Award winner Turnage hailed as ‘perfect facu...

Pleas Award winner Turnage hailed as ‘perfect faculty member’ [+VIDEO]

The 21st recipient of MTSU’s highest honor for black faculty is being praised as a credit to her profession and a caring mentor to future members of her profession.

Dr. Barbara Turnage, a professor of social work, was presented with the John Pleas Faculty Award at a ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Hazlewood Dining Room of MTSU’s James Union Building.

The award is presented annually during Black History Month to a black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service.

“The award is not about me,” Dr. John Pleas, the retired psychology professor for whom the honor is named, said to Turnage. “It’s about you. It’s about all these individuals who are named on the back of the program that have made contributions to the university.”

As a roomful of colleagues and admirers looked on, Turnage was hailed by her colleagues for her research, teaching and community service. Social work professor John Sanborn called her “fantastically collegial.”

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Turnage has built a social work career that has included providing social services for those with impaired and/or aging parents, new mothers and families with physical and mental health needs.

She also has counseled methadone clients and individuals who were at risk of harming themselves or others. This practical experience has informed her teaching, mentoring and research.

“Her communication abilities are quite amazing, and her bubbly personality is nothing short of infectious,” said Justin Bucchio, an associate professor of social work.

In addition to her academic achievements, Turnage is vice chair of the Board of Directors for Journeys in Community Living, a program that supports adults with intellectual disabilities. She will assume the chair in fall 2017.

“Dr. Turnage exemplifies a passion for helping social work students become self-driven, knowledgeable practitioners,” said Laura R. James, a master’s degree candidate in social work from Murfreesboro. “She cares about our academic performance and supports field opportunities commensurate with our career interests.”

MTSU social work professor Barbara Turnage thanks her family, colleagues and supporters after receiving the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award at a Feb. 21 ceremony in the James Union Building. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU social work professor Barbara Turnage thanks her family, colleagues and supporters after receiving the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award at a Feb. 21 ceremony in the James Union Building. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

At MTSU, Turnage has served on MTSU’s Faculty Senate, the Forrest Hall Review Committee, the Africana Studies Program Development Committee and the International Education and Exchange Committee. She continues to serve on multiple faculty, search, admissions and qualifying exam committees.

In accepting the award, Turnage called her family and colleagues to the podium to share the moment with her.

“Everything we do is based on our foundation, based on people that support us,” said Turnage. “I just wanted you to know my support system. These are people that I know love me no matter what, no matter what I do or say. … I can’t thank them enough for loving me.”

“From the college perspective, you’re the perfect faculty member,” said Dr. Harold Whiteside, dean of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.

For more information about the John Pleas Faculty Award, go to www.mtsu.edu/aahm/john-pleas-award.php.

Previous winners of the Pleas Faculty Recognition Award since its inception are:

  • Dr. Bichaka Fayissa, economics professor, 1998.
  • Dr. Laura Jarmon, English professor, 1999.
  • Dr. Gloria Bonner, dean of the College of Education, 2000.
  • Dr. Sharon Shaw-McEwen, social work professor, 2001.
  • Dr. Alphonse Carter, engineering technology professor, 2002.
  • Dr. Bertha Clark, professor of communication disorders, 2003.
  • Dr. Anantha Babbili, 2004, dean of the College of Mass Communication.
  • Dr. Pat Patterson, professor of chemistry, 2005.
  • Dr. Rosemary Owens, dean of continuing studies and public service, 2006.
  • Dr. Connie Wade, chair of the Department of Elementary and Special Education, 2007.
  • Dr. Marva Lucas, chair of the Department of University Studies, 2008.
  • Dr. Adonijah Bakari, history professor, 2009.
  • Dr. Dwight Patterson, 2010, chemistry professor.
  • Dr. Raphael Bundage, 2011, music professor.
  • Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis, professor of community and public health, 2012.
  • Dr. Newtona “Tina” Johnson, professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, 2013.
  • Dr. Sekou Franklin, political science professor, 2014.
  • Dr. Michaele Chappell, professor of mathematics education and coordinator for the Masters of Science in Teaching program, 2015.
  • Dr. Linda Clark, professor of mathematics in the Department of University Studies, 2016.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU social work professor Barbara Turnage, left, receives the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award from Professor Emeritus John Pleas at a Feb. 21 ceremony in the James Union Building. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU social work professor Barbara Turnage, left, receives the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award from Professor Emeritus John Pleas at a Feb. 21 ceremony in the James Union Building.

Dr. John Pleas, emeritus professor of psychology, gives remarks Tuesday, Feb. 21, before presenting the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award to Dr. Barbara F. Turnage, professor in the Department of Social Work. The ceremony was held in the Hazlewood Dining Room of the James Union Building. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Dr. John Pleas, emeritus professor of psychology, speaks Tuesday, Feb. 21, before presenting the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Award to Dr. Barbara F. Turnage, professor in the Department of Social Work.


Social work professor to receive MTSU top minority faculty honor Feb. 21

Feb. 15, 2017

An MTSU professor whose dedication to others has been the hallmark of her career is the 2017 John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award honoree.

Dr. Barbara Turnage

Dr. Barbara Turnage

Social work professor Barbara Turnage will receive the award in a 4 p.m. ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Hazlewood Dining Room of the James Union Building.

The ceremony is free and open to the public. A campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the ceremony should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

MTSU presents the John Pleas Faculty Award each year during Black History Month to a minority faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service. The honor, established in 1997, is named for Dr. John Pleas, an MTSU professor emeritus of psychology.

Turnage, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, has built a social work career that has included providing social services for families with impaired and/or aging parents, new mothers and families with physical and mental health needs.

She also has counseled methadone clients and individuals who were at risk of harming themselves or others. This practical experience has informed her teaching, mentoring and research.

Dr John Pleas web

Dr. John Pleas

At MTSU, Turnage has served on MTSU’s Faculty Senate, the Forrest Hall Review Committee, the Africana Studies Program Development Committee and the International Education and Exchange Committee. She continues to serve on multiple faculty, search, admissions and qualifying exam committees.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Click on the 2017 poster to see a larger PDF version.

In addition to her academic achievements, Turnage serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Murfreesboro’s Journeys in Community Living, a program formerly known as the Rutherford Adult Activity Center that supports adults with intellectual disabilities. She will assume the board’s chair in fall 2017.

Turnage, a first-generation high school graduate, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She earned her doctorate in social work from Tulane University and earned a four-year regents’ fellowship there.

Pleas Award nominees must have completed at least five years of service at MTSU and have a record of outstanding service. Each nominee must have three letters to support his or her nomination.

For more information about the John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award at MTSU, contact Dr. Linda Clark, professor of mathematics in the Department of University Studies and the 2016 Pleas Award winner, at 615-904-8234 or linda.clark@mtsu.edu.

Along with Clark, previous winners of the Pleas Faculty Recognition Award since its inception are:

  • Dr. Bichaka Fayissa, economics professor, 1998.
  • Dr. Laura Jarmon, English professor, 1999.
  • Dr. Gloria Bonner, dean of the College of Education, 2000.
  • Dr. Sharon Shaw-McEwen, social work professor, 2001.
  • Dr. Alphonse Carter, engineering technology professor, 2002.
  • Dr. Bertha Clark, professor of communication disorders, 2003.
  • Dr. Anantha Babbili, 2004, dean of the College of Mass Communication.
  • Dr. Pat Patterson, professor of chemistry, 2005.
  • Dr. Rosemary Owens, dean of continuing studies and public service, 2006.
  • Dr. Connie Wade, chair of the Department of Elementary and Special Education, 2007.
  • Dr. Marva Lucas, chair of the Department of University Studies, 2008.
  • Dr. Adonijah Bakari, history professor, 2009.
  • Dr. Dwight Patterson, 2010, chemistry professor.
  • Dr. Raphael Bundage, 2011, music professor.
  • Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis, professor of community and public health, 2012.
  • Dr. Newtona “Tina” Johnson, professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, 2013.
  • Dr. Sekou Franklin, political science professor, 2014.
  • Dr. Michaele Chappell, professor of mathematics education and coordinator for the Masters of Science in Teaching program, 2015.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


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