The Richmond Register

Local News

February 9, 2013

Turner brings entrepreneurial spirit to regents’ leadership

RICHMOND — His family roots run deep at Eastern Kentucky University.

When he crossed the EKU commencement stage in 1975, Craig Turner was following the footsteps of both his educator parents, Floyd County natives who later moved to Michigan. His wife, Madonna, who grew up in Pikeville, also earned a degree from Eastern.

But the newly elected chair of EKU’s board of regents and chair of its presidential search and screening committee isn’t looking backward. Mindful and appreciative of the university’s rich heritage but not bound by it, Turner says his alma mater must be open to change as it strives to become “more financially self-sufficient.”

As a successful Lexington-based businessman and entrepreneur, Turner knows a thing or two about taking on challenges. As the founder, CEO and chairman of MedPro Safety Products and founder and CEO of CRM Companies, he has welcomed and embraced change rather than merely reacted to it.

“I’m a risk-taker,” he said. “Challenges excite me.”

It’s how this EKU political science graduate with an already successful career in public service and industrial development – he headed the state’s efforts under governors John Y. Brown and Martha Layne Collins – explains his move to launch a firm in the mid-1990s that manufactures and distributes medical devices that protect the healthcare worker and the patient. When the federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was passed in 2001, MedPro, now publicly traded, was positioned to capitalize on change.

In addition, CRM Companies, a commercial real estate development company, manages more than 3.5 million square feet throughout the U.S. The company owns and operates a variety of properties, including hotels, restaurants, and its facilities management group, and employs more than 400 people.

Turner attributes his business success on both fronts to “determination and self-confidence, a strong inner belief in my ability to be successful and make a difference,” as well as an insistence on transparency.

And it’s those very qualities that Turner carries into his roles at EKU.

“My goal as board chair is to help Eastern run more efficiently … create resources that give people the tools to do it better,” he said. “We have to figure out ways to be better stewards and concentrate on what we do best. We want to be sure our hallmark programs remain centers of excellence … and take the programs that aren’t working well and re-evaluate them.”

As he struggles to help the University cope with dwindling state support, it’s hardly the first time he has tackled adversity. Turner arrived at Eastern in 1971 on a basketball scholarship to play for then-coach Guy Strong, but a motorcycle accident his freshman year shattered his right leg and, with it, his athletic dreams.

“Like everybody,” he said, “I assumed I would be playing in the NBA. I had to learn to walk again. I came back and played, but I wasn’t the same.”

So he settled into academic life at Eastern, where he found the small classes and personal attention to his liking. “I found the faculty to be more like step-parents,” he recalled. “I was at a school that still took roll call, which, for my personality, was needed. I needed the structure. Somebody once told me my mind was like a NASCAR race because it never stopped. It’s very difficult for me to stop and think about process.”

In much the same way, Eastern must keep re-inventing itself to stay on top of its game, Turner said.

“Our tradition is something to build upon … but we must continue to be innovative, continue to be resourceful. We are surrounded by outstanding (educational) institutions. The competition is stiffer, so we have to figure out how we prove we can make a difference. This is a transformational time for us and if we pull the right lever, we’ll head down the right path.”

As chair of the university’s presidential search and screening committee, Turner is leading the effort to find the perfect leader for his alma mater.

“I’m looking for a leader who is dynamic … who has the ability to get people to follow.”

Whatever the future holds, Turner is certain it shouldn’t mirror the past.

“We must be accepting of change,” he said. “The unknowns are what scares everybody, but if we are transparent about our direction, people will buy into it.”

That’s why Turner took the unprecedented step recently to address academic and institutional support leadership of the university at a campus meeting. His remarks included a call for collaboration and cooperation in identifying where 10 percent of the university’s budget (or approximately $23 million) could be set aside, partly for salary improvements – he believes EKU employees are the institution’s greatest strengths – and strategic purposes.

Turner believes significant advancements and realignment are needed in EKU’s development efforts to establish a more robust financial base, including increasing fundraising and gifting to the university.

“Today is an example of the change I’ve been talking about,” he said shortly before the meeting. “I want the university community to see that this board is involved, that it really knows what’s going on. I want everybody to understand that this board is stepping forward to talk about ‘the elephant in the room.’ And if we don’t know what’s going on, then tell us.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Suicide attempt fatal for inmate

    A Todd County man died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital following a suicide attempt at the Madison County Detention Center, according to Madison and Fayette county officials.
    George Kenneth Williams, 50, of Allensville, was transported Monday afternoon by Madison County EMS to Baptist Health Richmond, according to EMS Director Jimmy Cornelison. He was then transferred to Baptist Health in Lexington where he died Tuesday, according to the Fayette County Coroner’s Office.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCDW instructor indicted on charges of failing to provide training

    A Madison County grand jury has indicted a carry-concealed weapons permit instructor on charges he falsely claimed to have provided instruction to one person for a CCDW permit and provided incomplete training to three others.
    Christopher D. Fins was indicted April 9 on one count of CCDW instructor not providing firearms training and three counts of providing incomplete firearms training.
    Fins faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all four felony charges.

    April 17, 2014

  • EKU dorm sprinklers may have been activated maliciously

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.
    Fluctuating pressure then caused a campus water main to break, according to EKU spokesperson Mark Whitt.
    The cause is uncertain, but university officials are investigating to determine if the sprinklers were activated maliciously, Whitt said.
    The residence hall houses 260 students who were placed in other university housing or stayed with friends. All were able to move back in later in the day, he said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sixth person charged in motel meth bust

    A sixth person has been charged in connection with a methamphetamine-making operation discovered last week at the Bel Air Motel in Richmond.
    Roger M. Million, 24, Moberly Road, was charged Wednesday with manufacturing methamphetamine.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Madison County inmate dies in Lexington hospital

    An inmate at the Madison County Detention Center died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital, according to officials with the Fayette County Coroner’s Office and Madison County EMS.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sprinkler goes off; dorm evacuated

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17 4Hfieldday1.jpg 4-H Environmental Field Day

    Madison County fourth-graders participated in several hands-on activities Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual 4-H Environmental Field Day at the county fairgrounds.

    April 16, 2014 8 Photos

  • Hearing delayed on West Main zone change

    Signs giving notice of a public hearing on a proposed zone change at the corner of West Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue were not posted in time for the Richmond Planning Commission to scheduled a public hearing for its April 24 business session.

    April 16, 2014

  • Berea mulls break with Kentucky Utilities

    The city of Berea is considering whether to extend its contract with Kentucky Utilities or to shop around for another electricity provider.

    April 16, 2014

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

Yes.
No
     View Results