Michael L. Turney, Ph.D., ABC
Professor Emeritus of Communication
& Independent Consultant

"In addition to teaching and academic administration, my career as a communicator has included news writing, government public information, hosting radio and TV talk shows, conducting public relations and promotional campaigns, and producing multi-media planetarium and museum programs. My titles, employers, and target audiences varied, but my underlying goal was always to provide useful information with a meaningful perspective.

"Now that I'm retired, I'm still doing that, but I have more freedom, flexibility and fun as an independent consultant or volunteer."

ABC - Accredited Business Communicator
International Association of Business Communicators

Ph.D. in mass communication
M.A. in journalism

University of Iowa School of Journalism

B.A. in political science
Saint Procopius College; Lisle, Illinois

standing and pointing

[Northern Kentucky University logo] Much of my professional career was spent as a faculty member and academic administrator at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), a fast-growing metropolitan university across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I first went there in 1972 when the then-new institution was called Northern Kentucky State College and had only two permanent buildings and 3,000 students. I came as one of several dozen young assistant professors who helped kick-start its take-off.

After five years during which I was promoted to associate professor, tenured, and appointed coordinator of the Communication Division of the Department of Fine Arts & Communication, I opted to follow Horace Greeley's timeless advice. I sold my house, bought a travel trailer, and hit the road west.

Ten years later, NKU again beckoned and I returned to chair the Communication Department. During my five years as chair, the department's faculty and enrollment both doubled, the journalism lab was converted from typewriters to computers, and the TV studio was expanded, rehabbed and updated. But, enough was enough, and I choose to step down and return to full-time teaching, the activity that had initially drawn me into academic life.

However, the allure of administration with a year-around salary lingered in the background and occasionally sucked me in. In June 1997, an email I received in the laundromat of a New Mexico campground, summoned me to a one-year appointment as chair of NKU's Department of Allied Health, Human Services and Social Work. The challenge was fascinating, but the hinted at wealth and power never materialized, and the dean who had recruited me with these hints left NKU to become a provost elsewhere.

In January 2004, administration again beckoned and I became NKU's Executive Assistant for Outreach and Graduate Studies with university-wide responsibilities. I facilitated several special projects, assisted in marketing and promotion efforts, and functioned as an in-house communication consultant for the university's outreach programs and institutes and centers.

In fall 2006, I was talked into accepting another temporary administrative assignment and became the faculty coordinator for NKU's decennial re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). It was a massive task made more overwhelming by the complacency of the university's top administrators who assumed we would automatically be re-accredited. After an incredibly frustrating year with virtually no upper level support, grossly inadequate resources, no authority to implement needed changes, and believing things were destined to get worse, I opted for early retirement and left NKU on Halloween 2007.

In addition to NKU, I was a faculty member/administrator at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and at Clarke College (Dubuque, Iowa). I also guest lectured at Drake University and Grand View College (Des Moines), Loras College (Dubuque), Iowa State University, Miami University (Ohio), and Xavier University (Cincinnati).

[Iowa Dept of Human Services logo] Outside of academia, my greatest challenge was being director of communication for the Iowa Department of Human Services. It occurred in between my two tenures at NKU and immersed me in a five-year firestorm of record-setting farm foreclosures, state budget reductions, soaring Medicaid and Food Stamp usage, dramatic increases in the child abuse, prison disturbances, and a hostage situation in a mental health institution. Its climax came when I helped the governor announce a down-sizing of state government and lay-off of 1,200 state workers and had to simultaneously cope with a scathing "60 Minutes" expose of a high-profile foster care case.

prbook Many of my recent writings have been On-line Readings in Public Relations which are supplements to public relations textbooks. Even my most-recent hard-copy publication, "The Changing Name of Public Relations" in Fair & Equitable, The Journal of the International Association of Assessing Officers, Vol. 9, No. 4. (April 2011); p. 10, was a requested revision of one of these online readings. I have also refocused the public relations class website I initially created for my students into a broader resource, Practicing Public Relations, that also serves communication professionals and faculty. The feedback I receive indicates that this website and readings are being used by at least 50 schools around the world.

I also do more-entertaining yet highly informative presentations and productions for general audiences. Three of my most recent were "World War II Was on the Air" about radio news coverage of the war, "Hot Air Rising," an orientation to hot air ballooning, and "Mine eyes have seen ...," a Ken Burns-style documentary about Catholic sisters who served as nurses during the Civil War.

book coverKentucky Girls Books, historical novels aimed at girls in grades 3-6, have gotten a lot more of my attention since I retired. They're written by my wife and sister-in-law and feature strong female role-models in historically accurate settings. I developed and maintain their website while also serving as a promotional consultant and roadie.

wave at office door

"Regardless of where it was moved, I always felt that the Communication Department was my campus home."

pointing to bridge

"I frequently told students that their internships could be a bridge from the classroom into professional life."


"Will SACS renew NKU's accreditation? --
We asked the faculty in song, but no one responded."

playing banjo

"Yes, I played The Ballad of Amos Kendall, my `original 19th century' ballad on the Cincinnati riverfront during the Tall Stacks Festival."

If you need a guest lecturer, conference presenter, or communication consultant, I'd love to hear from you.

e-mail: turney@nku.edu

Michael Turney's home page with links to work samples

View Michael Turney's profile on LinkedIn

9 Dec. 2015