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Our Rich History


Turner History Picture

The fellowship program carries the name of  the late W. Burghardt "Burg" Turner, emeritus Professor of History at Stony Brook University. An African American faculty member who taught in the University for nearly 20 years, Professor Turner was actively engaged with issues relating to academic access for underrepresented students and their success at Stony Brook University. Professor Turner did not receive his doctorate, due to some of the very obstacles that the Fellowship seeks to overcome. In 2007, Stony Brook University awarded Burg Turner an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters.

In 1987, the State University of New York Board of Trustees adopted a report entitled “The Challenge and the Choice, Investing in Graduate Education and Research in the State University of New York." One of this report's primary goals was to substantially increase the enrollment of underrepresented minorities in graduate and professional programs. As a result of this report, SUNY proposed, the State Legislature approved, and the governor of New York adopted a State Operations Budget that contained specific appropriations to fund graduate fellowships for underrepresented minorities.  The program was originally called the Underrepresented Minority Graduate Fellowship Program. 

Believing that the fellowship program needed to establish a deeper connection to the campus and solidify its place at Stony Brook, it was the decision of the Turner Fellowship Program's inaugural director Ms. Myrna Adams to name the program after Burg.  On August 31 st of 1988 with the support of a committee of graduate students, faculty and administrators Myrna recommended to SUNY that the fellowship be named in honor W. Burghardt Turner. Stony Brook was the first SUNY campus to formalize the Underrepresented Minority Graduate Fellowship Program, adopting local guidelines for eligibility and attaching an honorific name to the program. From that day forward, the program would bear his name. 

Today, the Turner Fellowship program continues to be the only ongoing, New York State Funded, Graduate student specific recruitment and retention program at Stony Brook University.