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Cynthia Turner

Assistant Dean and Chief Diversity Officer at Ohio State University

Cynthia W. Turner is the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business Assistant Dean and Chief Diversity Officer. She is also an award-winning educator whose scholarly work has been published in some of the top journals in the accounting field. Cynthia joined Fisher as a faculty member of the Department of Accounting and MIS in the autumn of 2013. Previously, Cynthia served on the faculty of the Department of Accountancy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for more than 17 years where she was the associate director of the department’s undergraduate accountancy program. 

Cynthia has experienced many firsts throughout her life and career. She finished first as valedictorian of her class of 1986 at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, VA and her class of 1990 at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. She went on to become the first Black woman to receive her PhD in accounting at The Ohio State University and the first Black woman to serve on the accounting faculty at the University of Illinois. In 2019, she became the first Black to serve on the Dean’s leadership team at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. 

During her 17 years at the University of Illinois, Cynthia was deeply involved in diversity initiatives at the the  Gies College of Business, including being instrumental in the creation and raising of external funds for the Summer LEAD Institute for diverse high school students, and serving as faculty advisor to numerous diverse student organizations at Gies. Cynthia was also active in the Champaign-Urbana community and participated on a number of boards, including the Frances Nelson Health Center, A Woman's Fund, the Canaan Development Foundation, and the Canaan Credit Union (serving as audit committee chair). During her tenure as board member of the Canaan Development Foundation, Cynthia led fundraising efforts that resulted in raising over half a million dollars for its women’s shelter and charter school. As a community leader, among other things, she hosted  two national women’s conferences and numerous city-wide events for youth. In 2012, the city of Champaign recognized her exemplary community service by formally proclaiming June 8 to be “Dr. Cynthia Williams Turner Day” in its city. 

Since returning to The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, Cynthia has continued to strive to make a difference at her institution and within her community. As a faculty member, she developed in 2016 the award-winning Project THRIVE program for underrepresented minority students studying accounting, which doubled URM enrollment in that department within two years. Since taking on the position as assistant dean and chief diversity officer at Fisher in 2019, Cynthia has created the college’s first DEI strategic plan that focuses on systemic and structural changes to advance inclusive excellence for Fisher’s more than 8000 students, 300 faculty & staff and 80,000 alumni. Her strategic efforts to date include being instrumental in securing over $2 million dollars thus far in new external funding for scholarships and DEI initiatives; facilitating the development of a formal partnership with the city of Columbus and its chapter of the Obama Foundation My Brother’s Keepers Alliance to support pre-collegiate programming for its underrepresented high school students; developing programming to specifically engage Fisher’s diverse alumni, including the Alumni of Color Network Weekend and the Women’s Leadership Symposium; and creating a new DEI course offering at Fisher, to name a few. 

Cynthia currently sits on the boards of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and Women for Economic and Leadership Development. She also sits on the national advisory board for the Women Business Collaborative. Cynthia is a certified public accountant (inactive) and member of the American Accounting Association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the National Association of Black Accountants. Further, she is an ordained minister at New Salem Baptist Church in Columbus, OH. Cynthia and her husband Kevin are the proud parents of adult daughter Kia and their two award-winning filmmaking sons, Julien and Justen Turner.