UC Davis' Patricia Turner named dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at UCLA
Patricia Turner, vice provost for undergraduate education at UC Davis, will become the new dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at UCLA, effective Jan. 1, 2013, following the retirement of Judith L. Smith, who has served in that role since 1996.
"We all recognize that undergraduate education is of paramount importance to UCLA, and I am confident that Pat will provide outstanding leadership as vice provost and dean," said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh in announcing the appointment on July 11. He also thanked Smith for her exemplary service.
Turner was appointed vice provost for undergraduate education at UC Davis in 1999. From 2004 to 2006, she served as interim dean of humanities, arts and cultural studies, before returning to the position of vice provost in the spring of 2007. She has been a UC Davis faculty member in African American and African studies, as well as American studies, since 1990. She served as director of the American studies program from 1997 to 1998 and as director of African American and African studies from 1998 to 2000.
Turner will take on her new role at UCLA at a challenging time, when resources are being stretched thin and painful cuts in state funding continue to impact higher education in California. UCLA's College of Letters and Science educates more undergraduates than any other single unit in the UC system.
"While these are vexing times in terms of state funding," Turner said, "UCLA has the benefit of a long-term commitment to undergraduate education. Because the campus has used available resources prudently and has assembled a first-rate team, I am confident that each of the next classes of entering students will receive a high-caliber education. And I look forward to working on behalf of that goal."
Turner's academic research focuses on racial dynamics as reflected in folklore and popular culture. Her fourth and most recent book, "Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African-American Quilters," was published by University of Mississippi Press in 2009. Her previous books are "Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America," with co-author Gary Alan Fine (University of California Press, 2001); "Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture" (Anchor Books, 1994; University of Virginia Press, 2002); and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture" (University of California Press, 1993).
Turner has served as a consulting scholar on several documentary films, including Marlon Riggs' "Ethnic Notions," which received an Emmy Award in 1989 for best research in a documentary, and Riggs' 1992 Peabody Award–winning film "Color Adjustment." More recently, she was interviewed for "Portrait of the Artist: Riché Richardson," a film on the celebrated quilt artist.
For decades, Turner said, she has enjoyed collegial relationships with UCLA faculty members in folklore and mythology, Afro-American studies, and world arts and cultures.
"When I was first appointed vice provost of undergraduate education at UC Davis, in 1999, I came to UCLA and followed Judi Smith around for a couple of days," she recalled. "Since then, she has always been a terrific colleague."
Turner has held a number of leadership positions in academic groups and has served on the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges' Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence and on the executive board of the American Folklore Society. She is chair of the UC Education Abroad Program governing committee and a member of the UCDC Academic Advisory Council. Since September 2010, she has served as the executive director of the Reinvention Center, a national consortium of research universities dedicated to strengthening undergraduate education. She holds a B.S. in political science from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and an M.A. and Ph.D. in rhetoric from UC Berkeley.
Print, radio and television journalists have frequently sought Turner's commentary on folklore and popular culture. She has been interviewed for stories in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and many other prominent publications, and for radio programs that include "Fresh Air," "Talk of the Nation" and "All Things Considered." She has appeared on "NBC Nightly News," "CBS Evening News" and "The O'Reilly Factor," and her book "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" inspired a report on ABC's "20/20."