This article first appeared on NIRSA Region V website.

Dr. James Turman passed away on April 7, 2021, at the age of 74. He will be missed by his wife Susan, 4 children, grandchildren, and many friends and colleagues.

Dr. Turman was an Emeritus member of NIRSA, first joining in 1973. In 1982-1983 he served on the Board of Directors as the Region VI Vice President and in 1984 received the NIRSA Board of Directors Service Award for valuable leadership and service as a member of the executive committee. He presented at many regional and annual conferences throughout his career and was a contributing author on many NIRSA publications. Dr. Turman served on the Recreational Sports Journal Editorial Board from 2001 to 2016. The NIRSA National Service Award was awarded to him in 2002 for his outstanding service to the association with his work on “Planning Principles for Recreation Facilities.” His article “Changes in students’ recreation activities, satisfaction and perceived following the construction of a new recreation facility” was a recipient of the NIRSA Recreational Sports Journal Award in 2005. He also served in various NIRSA volunteer roles including planning principles task force, research, public relations, and logo/trademark committees, and NIRSA Foundation work teams.

Dr. Turman earned his bachelor’s degree in Printing Technology and Management from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo in 1970. In 1974 he earned a master’s in Motor Learning from the University of California – Berkeley. From there he served the professional community for 42 years in the following capacities:

  • 1974-1985 Associate Director at the University of California – Berkeley.
  • 1985-2016 Director of Recreation and Wellness and Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities experienced significant facility construction activity under his tenure. The major projects include the following: 1990 Aquatic Center, 1993 University Recreation Center, 1990 and 1998 St Paul Gym renovation, 2007 University Boathouse, 2012 Sports Field Complex/dome, and 2013 University Recreation and Wellness Center expansion. In addition, Recreation and Wellness took over management of the Les Bolstad Golf Course in 2009. During his 31 years at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Dr. Turman also earned a doctorate degree in Kinesiology in 2000.

Robert H. Bruininks, the 15th President of the University of Minnesota, shares that “He was a steadfast advocate for supporting the enhancement of the campus life of students, faculty, and staff…a tenacious advocate for recreational sports, health, and fitness for the University community.” Dan Allen, former Senior Associate Director of Recreation and Wellness and longtime colleague adds, “Under Jim’s direction, the Recreational Sports facilities and programs were elevated to the top of the profession, with the department becoming a leading force and major component of campus life. He was a true visionary who was dedicated to improving the campus experience for all of the University community.”

Cody Mikl is currently the Assistant Director for Facilities at University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness and Region V Representative on the NIRSA Member Network; he can be reached by email at