Dear Fellow Page Members,

I have some more sad news to share with you today so soon after my message about Kathleen Kelly. Our dear friend and former Page member, Judy VanSlyke Turk, passed away in Richmond VA on Sunday after a long illness.

Page member Don Wright of Boston University remembers that Judy was one of the first women with no AT&T connection elected to the Page Board of Trustees when she was dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. (Page was founded by the former AT&T senior communications team after AT&T was broken up in a consent decree with the U.S. government. The second and fifth chairs of Page were Jean Handley and Marilyn Laurie, both from AT&T.)

Judy left USC and the Page board to help establish the first woman’s college in the United Arab Emirates at Zayed University, where she was named the founding dean of the College of Communication and Media Sciences. 

In a long and distinguished career, Judy also directed the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University and the journalism and mass communications program at Kent State University. She was on the faculty at the University of Oklahoma, Louisiana State University and Syracuse University.

Like Kathleen, Judy was an educator who enriched Page discussions with perspectives from the academy, and also reflected the experience of the practice back into her teaching and research. In fact, Judy was a leader in strengthening public relations education through her service as president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) and as co-chair of the Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE).

She also held leadership roles in the Educators Academy of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She was president of the Arab-U.S. Association of Communication Educators and chair of the College of Fellows of PRSA, which named her the Outstanding Public Relations Educator in 1992. In 2005, she received the Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations for her lifetime contributions to research, and in 2013, she won the Bruce K. Berger Educator Mentor Award from the University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

Here are some tributes from fellow Page members:

From Maria Russell of Syracuse University Newhouse School:

I’m very fond of citizen-astronaut Christa McAuliffe’s personal job description: “I touch the future. I teach.” Any educator recognizes the special bond between teacher and student. Multiply that relationship by thousands and you have the life and career of Dr. Judy VanSlyke Turk. Think of the thousands of students and professionals who have been touched by this very bright, highly disciplined, purpose-driven – and very funny and fun—woman and the significance of her passing becomes both painful and an opportunity for celebration.

Dr. Turk was the ultimate mentor. She gave generously of her time, experience and insights to so many, especially to women at a time when the glass ceiling above both corporate America and academia seemed reenforced with steel. I, in fact, may have been one of her earliest mentees: She played a leading role in recruiting me to The Newhouse School 35+ years ago as she was leaving her own first teaching position. For all the years since, she encouraged me and many others to reach higher as a teacher, to conduct research that advanced the profession, to collaborate with professionals in preparing the next generation and to be passionate about the important role of servant-leader. Judy VanSlyke Turk was inspirational and many, many of us were fortunate to know her.

From Don Wright of Boston University:

Judy VanSlyke Turk's contributions to public relations education and research are far too many to list here. She'll be remembered for many things, most notably her work on curriculum development, everything she did to bring the academy and the practice closer together, her tireless efforts assisting those wanting to make the transition from public relations practice into university-based PR faculty positions, and her glowing impatience towards anyone who failed to give at least 100 percent to something the way she would.

From Don Stacks of University of Miami:

Judy was a visionary in regard to public relations and corporate communication. Her early liaison between the Page Society, PRSA, and AEJMC helped bridge the academic and professional communities. As others will note, she won just about every award an academic could win. She mentored many in both worlds.

From Elizabeth Toth of University of Maryland:

Judy Turk will be remembered as a pathfinder and passionate leader for public relations education. She inspired us all to build public relations degree programs that advanced the field of public relations. Judy encouraged and nominated me to join Page. She is sorely missed by her friends and colleagues across the world.

Here’s a link to a tribute from CPRE. Please note that memorial gifts may be made to the VCU Foundation in support of the Judy VanSlyke Turk Endowed Scholarship at VCU Foundation, Box 842039, Richmond, Virginia 23284 or online (search for keyword Turk).