The Indiana University East community is remembering Professor Emerita of History Eleanor L. Turk who passed away on Sunday, July 18, at her home in Richmond, Indiana. She was 85 years old.
One of IU East’s earliest full-time faculty members, Turk is part of the campus’ history and leaves a legacy in research, scholarship and travel abroad.
Turk first joined IU East’s faculty as an associate professor of history in 1983. In 1990, she was promoted to professor. She retired in 2003 with the title of emerita professor.
Chancellor Kathy Girten remembered Turk for her impact on IU East.
“The IU East community extends its sympathy to Eleanor’s family, friends and colleagues,” Girten said. “Eleanor will be remembered for her role in helping to shape the university into what it is today. Her influence, intelligence and foresightedness is still present today and ingrained in IU East’s history.”
Turk helped to develop the curriculum for several courses, and she was the first woman to chair the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at IU East.
In her retirement, Turk remained involved with the IU East community. She often attended the Retired Faculty Breakfast and Spirit of Philanthropy Luncheon.
International travel was a passion for Turk.
She received invitations and grants to research abroad in Canada, Cuba, Germany and South Australia. In all she traveled to 104 countries.
When she retired in May 2003, IU East established the Eleanor L Turk International Studies Scholarship to support undergraduate and graduate students traveling abroad in an accredited study or exchange program.
In 2020, Turk received an Indiana University Bicentennial Medal for her exemplary study abroad leadership and her distinguished contributions to international education.
Before joining IU East, Turk was named as a Fulbright Scholar (1957-1958) and attended the Christian Albrechts Universitat in Kiel, Germany. She participated in seminars on German history at the Europaisch Akademie, Berlin, Germany in 1981 and in 1985. In 1992, she participated in the Fulbright Summer Seminar Deutsche Landeskunde held in Bonn, Berlin, and Leipzig. She received monograph research grants from the German Federal Archives.
TJ Rivard, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, worked with Turk as part of the faculty, and her influence is still with him today.
“Eleanor was an adventurer, not only of the world but of the mind,” Rivard said. “She was always curious and could talk about a wide array of topics – history, of course, but also philosophy and German cinema. She was passionate and practical about her teaching, often linking the work and behaviors in the classroom to what students would encounter in the workforce. The best word I know to describe her is ebullient. I will miss her smile, which she almost always wore, and the optimistic way that she approached every challenge and opportunity.”
While a professor at IU East, Turk was an active member of the faculty and served on boards IU-wide.
She was appointed to serve on the IU Institute for Advanced Study Board of Directors from 1991-93. She received the IU John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies in 1995.
Turk authored two books, The History of Germany published in 1999 and Issues in Germany, Austria and Switzerland published in 2003. In addition, she wrote over 40 published articles and authored research grants.
She was a presenter or invited lecturer at close to 70 conferences across the nation and abroad. She was a reviewer for proposals submitted to the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and National Endowment for the Humanities. She was also a consultant for the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities Consultant-Evaluator Corps, 1995-2004, and a member of the President’s Council for International Programs from 1985-2003.
Turk received many awards, honors and grants including the Faculty Professional Development Fund Grant for Immigration Field Research to South Australia in 1984; an IU East Library Mini-Grant to build a collection of instructional videotapes in world history in 1994; an IU East Teaching
Excellence Recognition Award in 1999; IU East Chancellor’s Honors List in 1997; and an IU East Summer Faculty Fellowship in June 2000.
She served within the Richmond and Wayne County community as well. She was the founding member of the board and first president of the Sister Cities of Richmond, Indiana, Inc. with sister city Serpukhov, Russia, from 1987-90 and served on the board in 1990-92 and 1995-97. The program received the Best Overall Program Award in 1989, and the Governor of Indiana’s Award for International Relations.
Turk was presented with the YMCA Community Leadership Award, and the Peace and Justice award in 1989. She was involved with the Women’s Fund Committee, which went on to establish the women’s fund through the Wayne County Foundation in 2004. She was also a founding member and treasurer of the Wayne County Arts Consortium.
As an accomplished photographer, Turk accumulated five awards for her photography.
Turk received her B.A. in in History with a minor in Political Science from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1957. She earned her M.A. in European History with a minor in Diplomatic History from the University of Illinois in 1970. She earned a Ph.D. in Central European History with a minor in
Comparative History in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Turk is survived by her son, Andrew Turk, her brother Frederick Fort, nieces, and many friends, colleagues and former students who remember her fondly.
IU East will host a Celebration of Life to honor Turk’s legacy at 2 p.m. on September 2, 2021, in Vivian Auditorium.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Eleanor L. Turk International Studies Scholarship:
Indiana University Foundation
c/o Indiana University East
2325 Chester Blvd.
Richmond, Indiana 47374
Family and friends are invited to share their memories of Turk on her tribute page at iue.edu/tribute.