Back to News

Robertson School remembers former director, Judy VanSlyke Turk, Ph.D.

Aug 30, 2021

Posted in: News

photo of Dr. Judy Turk


***A message from the relatives of the Turk family***

Virtual Tribute Event for Dr. Judy Turk Set for Sept. 20
When the announcement of Judy Turk's passing was shared last spring, several of her colleagues noted that a virtual program of tribute and sharing Judy stories would be held this fall and the leaders of the VCU Robertson School of Media and Culture graciously volunteered to post the details on this website.  Please mark your calendars for Monday, Sept. 20., at 7 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, to join a memorial Zoom gathering, which will include a program about Judy and provide an opportunity for all to share their memories and favorite stories.  Details on the virtual gathering will be announced in September via the many associations and groups that Judy was involved in and if you would like to receive an announcement, please send a note to to be added to the list. 
And many thanks to all who sent notes of condolences for this greatly admired, respected, and loved colleague. These meant a great deal to Judy's family.  
Original Message

The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture mourns the passing of its former director and professor emeritus Judy VanSlyke Turk, PhD. Turk, who served as director from 2001 to 2010 and as a faculty member until her retirement in 2013, was a world-renowned public relations scholar, Plank Center award recipient and practitioner. She is remembered by the current and past faculty of the Robertson School for her profound impact and leadership in the field of mass communications.

“Dr. Turk had an exceptional reputation as a researcher and educator in our field and impacted the lives of thousands of students and hundreds of faculty members through her many years of leadership,” said Marcus Messner, PhD, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU and former director of the Robertson School. “I owe my own start in academia and at VCU to Dr. Turk, and will always be grateful for her trust and support.”

“Judy Turk came to our school at a difficult time of transition and put us on the path to excellence. She transformed our faculty and led our epic drive to accreditation. Without Judy, we wouldn’t be the school we are today,” Said Richard “Dick” T. Robertson, advisory board chair emeritus and School namesake. 

At the family’s request, Memorial gifts may be made to the VCU Foundation in support of the Judy VanSlyke Turk Endowed Scholarship, which was established with gifts from colleagues and friends in honor of her service.   Gifts may be sent, noting 'Judy VanSlyke Turk Endowed Scholarship,’ to VCU Foundation, Box 842039, Richmond, Virginia 23284 or make a gift online at (keyword search 'Turk'.)


Celebrating Her Legacy

In addition to her legacy with VCU, Turk was the founding dean of the College of Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. She served as dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and as director of journalism and mass communications at Kent State University. Turk was named Outstanding Public Relations Educator in 1992 by the Public Relations Society of America, she also is a former president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the largest association of journalism faculty and administrators in the country.

Before entering academia, Turk worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. She also has worked in university and corporate public relations and has lectured and consulted on mass communications issues in Eastern Europe, the Newly Independent States, the Baltics, Russia and Asia.

Co-author of This is PR: The Realities of Public Relations, she also served as co-editor of Journalism Studies, an international refereed journal, and was a member of the editorial advisory board for Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly and the Journal of Public Relations Research. She was an active member of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Public Relations Society of America.

Turk earned a doctoral degree from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, a master’s degree in public relations from Northern Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the Robertson School, she held faculty positions at the University of Oklahoma, Louisiana State University and Syracuse University.


Historical Content Sourced From:

[VCU News circa 2001]

[Plank Center Educator Honoree]