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Patricia A. Turner

PATRICIA A. TURNER, Dean and Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education, UCLA, Professor of African American Studies and World, Arts, Culture and Dance

I discovered and became passionate about folklore in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1970s when I began taking courses with Alan Dundes and other faculty affiliated with the folklore program there.  My first faculty position was at the University of Massachusetts—Boston, from there I trekked to the University of California, Davis where I spent 22 years, rising in the ranks from assistant to full professor and also assuming administrative positions as dean and vice provost. I was hired by UCLA in December of 2012. In all of my faculty positions I have been the "house folklorist” in a program or department of African American or American Studies. My present appointment also includes UCLA’s Department of World Arts, Culture and Dance. Most of my scholarly work has been focused on race and folklore; I am the author of four books published by university presses and several articles. I have had some experience with public folklore, perhaps most notably with the Smithsonian Institution’s annual festival.

From my two consecutive terms on the AFS Executive Board, I know that our Society is well run administratively and that our membership elects to its Board folklorists who are passionate about our discipline. As a long-term university administrator, I have an appreciation for the need to sustain and ensure support for current initiatives underway. Therefore I would be attentive to those matters.  However, of the many issues our Society has grappled with in the past few years, the ones I believe are most pressing involve the visibility and respect for our discipline, both in academia and the world at large, as well as the seemingly intractable challenges of diversifying our membership. During my Presidency I would dedicate myself to shaping a path for a more robust academic presence for our field that, in turn, would enable us to do the kind of outreach we need to make folklore attractive to young scholars. If this were an easy, straightforward thing to do, AFS would have done it by now. I do think that my administrative background acquainted me with some of the strategies of program promotion that might be applicable to AFS. I am fortunate that my scholarly work on race has been embraced in many other disciplines. Consequently I believe that I, and others in our membership, possess connections and affiliations with sister societies, academic majors, and interest groups with whom we could productively establish connections. AFS has been a key component of my academic support system throughout my career and it would be an honor to serve the Society.

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