Two Long-Time JSU Leaders Announce Retirement


A career that has lasted almost half a lifetime and helped transform JSU into a renowned university is coming to an end. On June 1, Dr. Rebecca Turner, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, will retire from JSU after 38 years. 

Turner decided to step down in order to spend more time with family, especially her 90-year-old mother, who lives alone following the death of Dr. Turner’s father in November 2017. “Just making sure all of her needs are being met is a real priority, especially now that she’s by herself,” she said. “I want to be able to spend as much time with her as possible.”  

Dr. Turner was a first-generation college student when she entered JSU as a freshman. She transferred to the University of Montevallo as a junior in 1969 to major in social work because JSU didn’t offer an undergraduate degree in that field – a fact she would later rectify. After graduation, she spent eight years as a social worker before returning to JSU to teach classes and develop an undergraduate social work degree

Dr. Turner would go on to become JSU’s first woman vice president. Over her past 17 years in Academic Affairs, her accomplishments have included bringing the Red Balloon Initiative to campus in 2010, which was focused on transforming traditional learning spaces into learning environments that are movable and flexible and use technology. She has also led the university in adding several new academic programs, including its first doctoral degrees. 

Taking over the helm as JSU’s next Provost is Dr. Christie Shelton, Professor of Nursing and Dean of the School of Health Professions and Wellness. The JSU alumna earned her BSN and MSN from the university before receiving a PhD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She returned to JSU in 2003 and served in a variety of leadership roles – including BSN Program Director, Co-principal Investigator, Nursing Instructor and Associate Dean – before becoming Dean in 2013. 

Dr. Shelton’s tenure as dean has been one of marked growth for her school. Under her leadership, the School of Health Professions and Wellness has created several new programs – including a bachelor’s in respiratory therapy and a doctorate in nursing practice. The nursing program has grown to become one of the largest and most successful on campus, with graduates regularly outperforming peers on the licensure exam. 

Dr. Shelton serves as treasurer of the State of Alabama Association of Colleges of Nursing and as a board member-at-large of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She is also a member of the Alabama Health Action Coalition and serves as a board member for Cleburne County Hospital, The Spectrum Option, and the Sanctuary Home. 

Dr. Shelton will become Provost on June 1, and a national search will be conducted to secure her replacement as Dean in Health Professions and Wellness. She will serve in a dual role as Provost and Dean until a new Dean comes on board.

Also retiring from JSU after a long, distinguished career is Dr. Bill Fielding, Dean of the School of Business and Industry. With more than 50 years of service on campus, Dr. Fielding’s name is synonymous with the JSU business program. He joined the faculty in 1968 and was appointed dean in 1997. 

One of Dr. Fielding’s greatest accomplishments as dean was to secure and maintain the prestigious international accreditation of the business school with AACSB - International. This accomplishment places JSU’s business school among the top 5 percent of business schools in the world. A national search will be held to find Dr. Fielding's replacement, with him continuing to serve in the role until a new dean is in place. In retirement, he plans to remain active on campus in a voluntary role.  

“JSU thanks Drs. Turner and Fielding for their exemplary leadership and service over many years,” said President John M. Beehler. “They have had a major impact on JSU.  We look forward to strong academic leadership from new Provost Christie Shelton and our new deans as we look forward to our bright future.”