Michael L. Turney, Ph.D., ABC
Professor Emeritus of Communication
& Independent Consultant
ABC - Accredited Business Communicator
Turney began the first of his two tenures at NKU in 1972 when its Highland Heights campus opened and the brand new institution was called Northern Kentucky State College. It had only two permanent buildings and 3,000 students. Fresh from his doctoral studies, Turney arrived as one of several dozen young assistant professors who kick-started NKU. During its next five years of frenetic growth he was promoted to tenured associate professor and appointed coordinator of the Communication Division of the Department of Fine Arts & Communication. Then, he decided to take a time-out. Heeding Horace Greeley's timeless advice, he sold his house, packed everything he owned into a travel trailer, and hit the road, heading west.
Ten years and what seemed like lifetimes later, he was married, settled in Des Moines, and working for Iowa's state goverment when NKU again beckoned. With only slight hesitation, he accepted the invitation to return and chair the Communication Department. It was a return not only to NKU and to Kentucky, but to academic life since he had been out of academe for six of the ten years he was gone.
Following his return, Turney and the Communication Department both grew and matured. After five years, the faculty and enrollment had both nearly doubled, the journalism lab had been converted from typewriters to computers, and the tv studio had been expanded, rehabbed and updated. But, after his father's death plus some dramatic changes at the university, he opted to give up administration, step down from chairing the Communication Department, and return to full-time teaching, the activity that had initially drawn him into academic life.
Years of teaching passed smoothly and happily, but the allure of administration and its corresponding year-around salary lingered in the background. Then, in June 1997 in the laundromat of a New Mexico campground, Turney received a tantalizing e-mail from NKU's Dean of Professional Studies. It hinted at untold wealth and power if Turney would accept a one-year apppointment as interim chair of NKU's Department of Allied Health, Human Services and Social Work. The assignment turned into an exciting and fascinating year in a lovely and spacious office, but the visions of wealth and power proved to be illusions. And, to top it off, the dean who recruited him packed up and moved away to become a provost. Wiser but alas no richer, Turney returned to the Communication Department where he taught courses that included:
Administration beckoned once again in January 2004. It was a 2-3 year assignment as executive assistant for outreach and graduate studies, a much higher level position than department chair -- the eigth floor of NKU's Administrative Center -- whose reach spanned the entire university. In this role, Turney facilitated several special projects, assisted in directing marketing and promotion efforts, and functioned as an in-house communication consultant for the university's outreach programs and many of its special institutes and centers. His accomplishments included:
Although scheduled to return to full-time teaching in fall 2006, Turney was talked into accepting another temporary administrative assignment as faculty coordinator for NKU's decennial re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). A massive task, it was made even more overwhelming by the complacency of the university's top administrators who assumed NKU's re-accreditation would essentially be automatic and saw no need to be concerned about the new standards SACS had established. So, after an incredibly frustrating year with virtually no upper level support, grossly inadequate resources, no authority to implement needed changes, and believing things would only get worse, Turney opted for early retirement and left NKU on Halloween 2007.
In addition to 26 years on the NKU faculty, Turney's academic career included teaching and administering undergraduate programs at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and at Clarke College (Dubuque, Iowa). He also guest lectured at Drake University (Des Moines), Grand View College (Des Moines), Iowa State University (Ames), Loras College (Dubuque), Miami University (Ohio), and Xavier University (Cincinnati).
Over the years Turney has also done communication consulting for dozens of schools, museums, and non-profit community service organizations throughout the Mid-West. His largest such project was a study of publication dissemination for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) completed in 2000. His most recent short-term assignment during late-2009 and early-2010 was recruiting and testing temporary employees throughout Northern Kentucky for the U.S. Census Bureau.
Turney's most recent presentations to professional communicators were two public relations workshops he conducted for the American Association of Port Authorities in June 2009. They focused on strategic public relations planning.
He also likes to do more-entertaining presentations for general audiences. Two of his most recent were "World War II Was on the Air," and "Hot Air Rising." The first was a lecture interspersed with soundbites from radio newscasts that traced the evolution of live news broadcasting during the Second War War. It was presented to residents, guests, and the general public at the Westhaven Residential Community in Boone, Iowa in May 2011. "Hot Air Rising," produced in DVD format in July 2011, is a 15-minute video slideshow that presents a basic introduction to hot air ballooning. He is also currently working with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati to produce a Ken Burns-style DVD about Sisters from that community who served as volunteer nurses during the American Civil War.
"Me? - Kentucky ambassador to Boston?!?"
"Wherever it was, the Communication Department was my campus home."
"I didn't know I'd have to dress like this when I became an eigth-floor administrator."
"Will SACS renew NKU's accreditation? -- We asked in song, but no one responded."
"I told students internships were their bridge from the classroom to professional life."
"Yes, I played The Ballad of Amos Kendall, my `original 19th century' ballad on the Cincinnati riverfront during the Tall Stacks Festival."
"What do you mean I'm acting defensive about my administrative decisions?"
If you need a guest lecturer, conference presenter, or communication consultant, I'd love to hear from you.
Michael Turney's home page with links to work samples
(10 July 2012)