November 21, 2003 - University of Nebraska: Morocco RPCV Merry Ellen Turner recognized for efforts as Dean of International Programs at University of Nebraska

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: November 21, 2003 - University of Nebraska: Morocco RPCV Merry Ellen Turner recognized for efforts as Dean of International Programs at University of Nebraska

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Morocco RPCV Merry Ellen Turner recognized for efforts as Dean of International Programs at University of Nebraska

Morocco RPCV Merry Ellen Turner recognized for efforts as Dean of International Programs at University of Nebraska

Turner recognized for efforts

by Marquita Govan
November 21, 2003

Merry Ellen Turner, director of International programs.
photo by Danelle Petersen

As you walk into Merry Ellen Turner's office, you get the notion that she respects all cultures. The international art on her wall gives her office that well-traveled feeling.

All in all, such memorabilia is just a reflection of her experiences in the International Education field that have led her to where she is now as current director of international programs at UNO.

Turner, a University of Missouri graduate, has spent 25 years in the International Educational System at UNO and has served as director since April of 1988.

Turner started out as an English as a Second Language teacher and volunteer for the Peace Corps in Morocco. It was her love of teaching English that inspired her to get a job as an ESL instructor in the Intensive Language Program here at UNO. Since then, she has acquired several positions in the International Studies and Programs department, including that of ILUNO academic and program coordinator and assistant director, which all served as stepping stones to her position today.

Turner is a recent recipient of the Andersen-Gouttierre Award. Her commitment to advancing the international knowledge and understanding of UNO and the community is a reflection of the devotion and special interest she has for her job. For Turner, it is a job that is both professionally and personally stimulating, offering something new and different everyday that she said she can look forward to. To her, it is a dream job, one that gives her the opportunity to do what she loves for a living.

The award she received was named in honor of the former chairman and chief executive officer to the Omaha World-Herald, Harold Andersen, and UNO's dean of International Studies and Programs, Tom Gouttierre. The award is given every year to those who have helped enhance the international awareness of Nebraskans. The award is also by nomination, going to two faculty members and one staff member. Turner was the staff member chosen and Joong-Gun Chung, a professor in the Department of Political Science and James Saker, professor and chair of the Department of Music, were the two faculty members selected for 2003.

Though Turner was a member of the election committee for the awards, the group managed to keep her nomination a secret during the selection process. Turner said when she found out she had been picked for the award, she was both surprised and honored.

"It's nice to be recognized for doing something that you love to do, which I do," she said.

The award is accompanied by a cash prize of $1,000, which the recipients can use however they wish.

Crediting her dedicated and hard-working staff as the real reason behind winning the award, Turner points out it is their team-orientation and focus in helping diversify UNO's international student population that is the reason she and her department are successful.

Turner also credits her unique experience as part of the Peace Corps for really helping to define her career path.

Her one-year stint in the Moroccan city of Taza gave her a lot of skills useful in the workforce she wouldn't have gained otherwise, including proficiency in both Arabic and French, as well as important problem solving and communication skills. She said an overseas experience makes a big difference in one's salability in the job market and that is a value she said shouldn't be underestimated.

"I think without that experience, I probably wouldn't be doing what I am doing today, so that has a big impact," Turner said.

Turner also said such exposure makes a person more empathetic toward international students and provides insight into the many difficulties they often encounter.

Ironically, Turner said when she moved to Omaha, she thought she'd never see another international student face, but has since then seen more than a thousand ILUNO students from more than 90 different countries go through the program this past year alone.

And just this year, UNO was listed as No. 25 out of the top 40 institutions for their international student populations in an annual report by the Institute of International Education. No other school in the state of Nebraska made the listing.

Such recognition encourages Turner to continue that kind of student-centeredness the International Studies and Programs Office is becoming known for. Making sure that students continue to come first in her department among the newly initiated federal immigration mandates is her current goal, a balancing act she perceives to be her office's real job in its goal to internationalize the education process at UNO.

Turner said she has no plans to leave International Studies and Programs any time soon, and it is the constant variation and new people she meets in her job that keeps her in it.

"I'm always challenged and as long as that continues, I'm happy to be where I am, doing what I am doing," she said.

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Story Source: University of Nebraska

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; University Education; Interantional Programs



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