President Turner's Biography

Dr. Steve Turner began his duties as Northeastern State University’s 19th president on Jan. 1, 2012.  In many ways, he is a role model for the regional university system as a nontraditional, first-generation graduate. From his early years spent working in the oil industry to his later college years serving as both student and staffer, Turner worked his way through the ranks to achieve his dreams.

During his tenure, NSU has become stronger in virtually every area of the institution.  In 2013, President Turner began the implementation of Destination 2023: A ten-year roadmap of distinction through degree completion, establishing student-centered academics and advisement as top priorities. Improved facility maintenance and new construction, including new housing, a new wellness center, and a 90,000 sq. ft Event Center, has revitalized the Tahlequah campus. The Muskogee campus now has a renewed academic emphasis on allied health care professions with the addition of a major in Occupational Therapy and the new Physician Assistant Studies Program. Several new programs and degrees have been introduced at the Broken Arrow campus that focus on bachelor’s degree completion and master’s degrees.

Under Turner’s leadership, NSU experienced historic fund-raising success with the Preserve Our Past, eNSUre Our Future Campaign. When the five-year campaign ended on Feb. 1, 2020, over $27 million was raised towards the goal of $25,075,000.

President Turner is a proud faculty member for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and has taught at the New Presidents Academy for the past eight years.  In addition, for the past five years, he has taught at AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Initiative and the Emerging Leaders Program. 

Turner began his higher education journey in 1989 at East Central University, located in Ada, Oklahoma. He served in many capacities, including vice president for administration and finance, executive assistant to the president for governmental relations and economic development and the Thomas Endowed Chair in Human Resources.

He earned his doctorate in adult learning and higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma. He holds a master’s and a bachelor’s degree, both from ECU.

Turner and his wife, Penny, have two sons Matt and Tim, two daughters-in-law, Kelly and Aleisha, a grandson, Connor, and granddaughter, Chloe. The couple share their lives with Lily, a Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu mix.