Robert Gerald Turner (born November 25, 1945) is the President of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. Previously he served as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss").
Early life and education
R. Gerald Turner was born in 1945 in New Boston, Texas. He received an A.A. from Lubbock Christian College, and graduated from Abilene Christian University with a B.S. in Psychology in 1968. He then graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an M.A. and a Ph.D..
From 1975 to 1979, Turner was a Professor at Pepperdine University at Malibu, California. He was the Vice President of the University of Oklahoma from 1979 to 1984.
University of Mississippi
Turner served as the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1984 to 1995. At 38, Turner was considered among the youngest university presidents. His Southern charm and aptitude for fundraising have been a hallmark of his career. While at Ole Miss, he fired Billy Brewer, the longtime popular football coach, due to allegations of recruiting violations. Successful programs under Turner's leadership grew the school's endowment from $8 million to $64 million.
Southern Methodist University
Since 1995, Turner has served as the President of Southern Methodist University. He helped lead the school's efforts to attract the George W. Bush Presidential Center, to be located on the SMU campus. In 2008, he earned $2.7 million.
He has helped raise billions of dollars for the school.
Board and leadership positions
Turner is co-Chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and Chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Subcommittee on Presidential Leadership of Internal and External Constituencies. He serves on the boards of United Way of Dallas, the Methodist Hospital Foundation, the Salvation Army of Dallas, the First Broadcasting Corporation, J. C. Penney (where he was part of the critical decision to change J.C. Penney's century old sales and discount program), Kronos Worldwide, American Beacon Funds, California Federal Preferred Capital Corporation, American Advantage Funds, Skytel Communications, ChemFirst Inc, the ChemFirst Foundation, AMFM, the First Mississippi Corporation, etc.
Turner and his wife, Gail, a native of Graham, Texas, have two married daughters. He is a member of the Churches of Christ.