Dr. Sekai Turner Named to Lead Keuka College’s ‘Exciting’ New Honors Program

“Her impressive background as a scholar and mentor, mixed with her empathetic disposition, made her the candidate of choice,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Fuster.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

With the naming of a new director, an advisory council in place, and student interest already percolating, Keuka College’s new Honors Program is generating attention and enthusiasm.

The program, which officially starts with the incoming Class of 2024, is being led by Dr. Sekai Turner, a lifelong educator who has made Keuka College her professional home for the past six years.
“Dr. Turner has perpetually been an outstanding faculty member at Keuka College,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Fuster. “When we interviewed her for the position, she shared that she had been searching to find additional ways to lend leadership to Keuka College for a number of years, and when the opportunity to lead our new Honors Program emerged, she became impassioned to help.”

Digging Deeper

While she has taught primarily Online and Graduate programs as an associate professor of Social Work at Keuka College, Dr. Turner said she has been eager to work more directly with students in person. She even volunteered to teach on-campus KC 101 courses, which help first-year students more successfully transition into college life.
“I really wanted to focus more on working with students and program development,” said Dr. Turner, who holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Maryland. “I like the idea, too, of giving students another community space to pursue their academic interests and do this in a way that allows them to dig a little deeper.”
The Honors Program is designed to attract high-performing high school graduates to Keuka College, and challenge and encourage them academically once they arrive. Specialized honors courses will incorporate interdisciplinary learning, an Honors Seminar Series will provide stimulating lectures and panel discussions, and faculty mentors will partner in research projects that will be spotlighted at the annual Keuka College Expo.
The program comes with plenty of perks, including an additional scholarship, priority registration, designated housing, a dedicated Honors Lounge, discussions with College President Amy Storey, and the social support and friendship network that blossom when cohorts of like-minded students work together closely.
“Can you imagine coming in with a group of people and they all have a common interest,” Dr. Turner said. “They’ve done well in their high school academic programs. They’re looking forward to being challenged in unique ways. And they’re going to have people around them who are going through this journey with them. Not just peers but faculty. I think that could be really neat.”

Widespread Interest

Dr. Turner said the College should not have any difficulty filling the anticipated 20 openings in the program for next fall.
“We’ve got a long list of students who are interested,” she said. “And many of them are deeply thinking people; they have a lot of ideas about what is happening in the world around them. We have a really great opportunity to let the students know that we do see them. We know that they can go deeper to appreciate rigorous work. And we can give them a chance to show off what they know and what they’ve learned. It’s exciting!”
It’s also a lot of work.
Since being named Honors Program director, Dr. Turner’s to-do list includes:

  • Working on curriculum and identifying general education courses that will comprise the Honors Program model. The courses will be an important part of the College’s revised General Education curriculum, which debuts in Fall 2024.
  • Partnering with Student Development and Residence Life to envision a living-learning community.
  • Securing membership in the National Collegiate Honors Council, a professional organization that provides resources for college and university honors programs.
  • Representing the program and recruiting students at this semester’s October and November Open Houses.
  • Establishing an Honors Program Advisory Council to help steer the program and its many facets.

Dr. Turner said that, along with the Advisory Council, there will also be several subcommittees, covering areas such as General Education, and Curriculum and Instruction. Staff and faculty interest, said Dr. Turner, has been no less enthusiastic than student interest.
“The response has been overwhelming,” she said. “Folks were writing back so quickly saying, ‘Wow, I‘d love to be part of this,’ and sharing ideas about how things should go. And then I’ve got a couple of colleagues who said, ‘I did some of this at my former institution; I’d love to sit with you and share some resources. I may not be able to serve on the committee but I’ve got some things to share with you.’ And I was like, ‘Yay! This is the way we do it!’”