Spring 2021 Meritorious Service Award recipient Gary Turner

by Green & Gold News  |   

Spring 2021 Meritorious Service Award recipient Gary Turner.

 Last fall, longtime Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) director and CEO Gary Turner announced he would retire in summer 2021. For 19 years Turner has helmed KPC, which includes the Kenai River Campus in Soldotna, the Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, the Resurrection Bay Extension Site in Seward and the Anchorage Extension Site. Throughout his tenure as director, he ushered in many changes, pioneered distance learning in higher education and advocated for building improvements at KPC campuses.

Early on during his tenure, Turner prioritized improved communication and collaboration between the KPC campus locations to the benefit of students. He said he is incredibly proud of the team of faculty and staff he built at each of the campuses and will miss working with his colleagues at KPC.

Turner is also responsible for launching new academic programs at the campus locations and was ahead of his time in prioritizing online education, in which KPC became a leader and model for the state regarding distance education. Significant capital projects were completed during his tenure as director including the Career and Tech Education Center and KPC’s first on-campus residence hall.  

Over the course of his career at KPC, Turner was tapped to serve on several councils and committees. Appointed by former University of Alaska (UA) President Mark Hamilton, Turner served as the chair of the UA Statewide Community Campus Director’s Council for more than 15 years and in 2017 former UA President Jim Johnsen appointed him to represent all community campuses on the university’s Summit Team and various e-learning committees. Additionally, Turner served 13 years on the Meritorious Service Award committee, as well as 12 years on the Alaska Select Legislative Ethics Committee, serving as chair and vice chair for two terms each. In 2012, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce named Turner Soldotna Person of the Year.

For Turner, closing the book on his career at KPC is bittersweet and although he looks forward to retirement, he remains committed to students, faculty, staff and community campuses he served for nearly two decades.

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