NORMAN – University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced a leadership gift to the university from Sharen Jester Turney and her husband Charles A. Turney in support of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.
In appreciation of this gift, the OU Board of Regents approved Boren’s recommendation to name Collings Hall courtyard in honor of Sharen Jester Turney as a tribute to her success as a businesswoman and her commitment to empowering others through extensive philanthropic efforts.
“Through their generous gift, the Turneys are making a difference in the lives of countless young people who will be educated by the teachers trained at OU,” said OU President David L. Boren. “We are all deeply grateful.”
The leadership gift further contributes to the Sharen Jester Turney Education Endowed Scholarship,established to support students pursuing a career in education by providing resources necessary to achieve their goals and complete their degree through access to need-based scholarship support.
“OU is forward-thinking in its approach to work with the whole life of the student,” said Turney. “Attracting bright minds to an incredible program and giving students the financial freedom to build a teaching career in the great state of Oklahoma. It is a difference-maker and why I chose to support OU.”
The gift also supports the Debt-Free Teachers Program, providing graduates of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education who remain in the state of Oklahoma with student loan forgiveness each year they teach in-state, up to four years. Focus is placed on those with a commitment to teach in high-need subject areas, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, world languages, special education and early childhood education, as well as in inner-urban and rural schools.
“This scholarship is a key component of our goal of offering a financial pathway to students who want to become professional educators,” said Gregg Garn, dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. “In our teacher education preparation program, they will be taught by award-winning faculty in a top-ranked institution. Students will not have to worry about carrying educational debt into their teaching career, a profession that rewards the soul more than the bank account.”
Turney is a retail executive with more than 30 years of experience launching e-commerce businesses and growing world-class brands across department, luxury and specialty concepts for Fortune 500 companies. Turney recently spent 16 years with Victoria’s Secret. She first joined the company as president and CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, taking the catalogue and e-commerce business across the iconic one billion dollar mark. Turney then spent 10 years as president and CEO of the $8 billion Victoria’s Secret brand, doubling the business and profit under her stewardship. She is recognized for her extensive contributions through nonprofits and civic engagement, including several initiatives devoted to education and cancer care and research.
Turney is an Oklahoma native and graduated from OU with her bachelor’s in business education. Prior to Victoria’s Secret, Turney spent 10 years with luxury powerhouse brand Neiman Marcus, first serving as executive vice president before launching the e-commerce website and managing the famous Neiman Marcus Christmas Book as president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct.
In 2015, Turney was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed on an Oklahoman. She also has been inducted into the Hall of Fame Business of Education at OU. Turney was recently a Way to WIN honoree in appreciation of her support of homeless women and children on their journey toward independence in New York and previously an honoree of Children’s Hunger Alliance in Columbus, Ohio. She is the recipient of the Fashion Medal of Honor for Fashion Retailing. She also received the Dr. Catherine White Achievement Award from HeartShare Human Services, which promotes self-sufficiency for more than 35,000 children, adults and families throughout New York.
Currently, Turney serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; is a member of the board of directors for M/I Homes Inc.; and serves on the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative advisory board at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She is actively involved with the Family Violence Coalition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts.
Turney’s advisory roles span the globe, and include London based Marks and Spencer, Gloria Jeans in Russia, and technology companies Feedvisor, NewStore and Joox. She serves on the board of directors for Full Beauty and Sweden-based global brand Happy Socks. A frequent featured speaker and media guest with business and educational institutions, she enjoys interacting with people all over the world, discussing what the future holds for today’s and the next generations of curious minds influencing our global community.
The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education offers degree programs that prepare professional educators for the classroom as well as for careers in diverse fields such as administration, counseling, literacy and advocacy. It is home to more than a dozen centers and institutes that directly help Oklahomans in their daily lives. The college is nationally recognized for its programs in educational psychology, continuing education, school improvement, early childhood literacy, school administration and multicultural issues in education. For more information, visit ou.edu/education.