Even though her husband, Jim, served as a Baylor Regent for nine years, including one as chairman, Julie Turner ’67, MS ’68, says she never considered the idea of serving in a similar role until she was offered one of the first three Alumni-Elected Regents positions last May.
“I had served as chair of the board of Dallas Baptist University, where we accomplished a lot with a good-sized board, but we never encountered the big problems and decisions and the media scrutiny that we’re getting here,” she says. “To this day, when I step onto the DBU campus, I feel the presence of God.”
Turner’s first Regents meeting was in July, shortly after the departures of Ken Starr, Art Briles, Ian McCaw, and a few other Athletic Department leaders —- all of whom Julie knew well. “I cared a lot about those people so this has been a big challenge,” she says. “There are so many good things happening at Baylor but the media wants to focus on all the bad things. These are challenging times and I don’t think you could serve on this board if you didn’t love the university so much that you were willing to try to fix things.”
Turner, who was assigned the initial one-year term among the alumni Regents, describes her early board meetings as “emotional…If I didn’t feel that way, it would be because I didn’t care enough about Baylor…I think Baylor is headed in the right direction and is taking care of problems where a lot of people were hurt and trying to make sure that never happens again. But we’re certainly not to where I think there’s no hope.”
Though her husband also served as a Regent during some difficult times for Baylor, she says he didn’t offer her any advice beyond some discussion about committee assignments. These days the two don’t talk about BOR specifics.
“Mistakes have been made, but Baylor is MORE,” she says, choosing her words carefully. “We need to address the mistakes in order to move forward.”
And as far as husband Jim is concerned, Julie is up for the challenges she’s facing.
“Our business – one of the largest privately owned bottling companies in the United States –was successful in large part due to her involvement, business acumen, and knowledge,” says Jim Turner. “She is a pragmatic, tough, and astute businesswoman who developed the leading bottled-water brand in Texas; in fact, Deja Blue is the official water of the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and many others.”
As she looks back on her time at Baylor, Turner recalls fondly Dr. Eveline E. Kappes, whom she says pointed her toward a career in physical education.
“Women my age went to college focused on being a teacher or nurse,” she says. “I declared as an Elementary Education major, which had a requirement that I take Physical Education for Elementary Education Majors, which I took as a junior.”
Turner says Kappes inspired her to go into physical education, even though she had never considered being in that field.
“She called me in her office and asked why I hadn’t considered majoring in Physical Education. I could bowl, which was unusual for a woman in the 1960s. There was a pool at Marrs McLean Gymnasium at the time and I had been in a Synchronized Swimming group, had lettered in basketball and volleyball in high school, and I ran the hurdles on the club track team. So she suggested I take as many physical education classes as I could as electives and come see her after graduation. When I did, she offered me a stipend to go to grad school to get my master’s.”
While pursuing her post-graduate education, Turner served in a number of positions before finally leaving Waco.
“McLennan Community College was just getting started and needed a Phys Ed teacher out at the base where they were operating. I picked up the students at a central location in a yellow school bus, then got a full-time job to teach in the Physical Education department at Baylor, and finally moved to San Jacinto College for 12 years. I loved teaching physical education, teaching dance, sponsoring the cheerleaders, and teaching fitness and aerobics. [Eveline Kappes] is the reason I ended up in that field.”
- The most memorable thing that happened to me at Baylor was… Meeting my husband. [Meeting him] was not all that memorable an event, although we’ve been married now for 48 years. I had a date with one of his basketball teammates. He was known as Jimmie back then. I don’t really recall meeting him, but he called me one day. I hadn’t been keeping up with the roster.
- My favorite place on the Baylor campus is… The Turner Riverfront Complex, including Ferrell Center.
- One thing that’s not on my resume is… Patrick Swayze was a dance student of mine at San Jacinto College. Of course I turned him into a great dancer (Laughs). His mother was a dance instructor, but he had never taken modern dance until my class. He was a wonderful guy. He told me later on that what he regretted about being famous was that his dad died before seeing that accomplishment.
- My approach to saying no for requests for my time or resources is… “It’s not a good time right now.”
- My creative process begins with…Time
- My daily reading includes… Jim Denison Forum on Truth and Culture (Editor’s Note: Dr. Denison serves as the Resident Scholar for Ethics with Baylor Scott & White Health)
- The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is… Anything worthwhile takes time.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest success was… Enjoy it.
- The lesson I learned from my biggest failure was… Forget it.
- My favorite Bible verse is… Philippians 4:13 KJV (“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”) because it gives hope and encouragement.
- I get exercise by… Walking and “doing stairs.”
- For breakfast, I eat… It varies but I do have breakfast.
- The advice I give young college graduates is… Stay focused.
- One thing I find overrated is… Television talk shows.
- My favorite app is… Google Maps, because it gets me where I’m going.
- One cool thing that’s on my bucket list is… Attend a baseball game in every Major League park/stadium. I’m just getting started with that. (Turner’s husband Jim has been a member of the ownership group for both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars since 1995).
- The best gift I’ve ever received is… Having two wonderful parents.
- Every woman should know how to…Swim
- One of the great satisfactions of my life has been… My Baylor degree.
- My favorite musical artist is… Garth Brooks.
- To relax, I… Sleep