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UCR Sociologist Named a University Professor

Regents Name UCR Sociologist a University Professor

Jonathan Turner is a leading authority on theories of society and the sociology of emotions.

(July 21, 2010)

Jonathan TurnerEnlarge

Jonathan Turner

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Jonathan Turner, distinguished professor of sociology at UC Riverside, has been named a University Professor by the University of California Regents. He becomes the 37th scholar in the UC system to be so honored since 1960.

The title of University Professor is reserved for scholars of international distinction who are also recognized as scholars and teachers of exceptional ability. The appointment, approved at the regents meeting last week, allows these distinguished scholars to visit other UC campuses to give special seminars and presentations and to meet with students and faculty.

Turner is one of two professors currently on the UCR campus to receive the honor. The other is Robert Rosenthal, distinguished professor of psychology. The late Emory Elliott, professor of English and director of the Center for Ideas and Society, was named a University Professor in 2001. Arturo Gomez-Pompa, distinguished professor of botany emeritus, was named a University Professor in 1999.

“I am incredibly honored to be named University Professor, especially since there have only been 36 before me over the last 50 years in the UC system,” Turner said. “As someone who began his career at UCR in 1960 as a freshman (the same year that the first University Professor was appointed, Edward Teller), and now some 50 years later to be honored in this way is highly gratifying, to say the least, and gives pause to think about my academic life.”

Turner is one of the preeminent sociologists of his generation, said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“He has made foundational contributions in sociological theory, as well in various applied fields, including the sociology of emotions, ethnic relations, social institutions, social stratification, and bio-sociology,” the dean said. “He is only the second sociologist in the last 50 years to be named a University Professor in the UC system. This recognition by the regents is a distinct honor for him and for UCR, and it is richly deserved.”

Turner earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Santa Barbara, continuing a family tradition of UC graduates. Both of his parents earned degrees from the University of California, as have his wife and three children. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University, and joined the UCR faculty in 1969 after having taught previously at the University of Hawaii.

Regarded by scholars internationally as a leading authority on theories of society, Turner’s textbooks are required reading around the world, UCR Department of Sociology Chair Adalberto Aguirre wrote in the letter nominating Turner for the honor. “His current research direction is the sociology of emotions, a long ignored or misunderstood area within the social and natural sciences,” Aguirre wrote. “His work is being seen as an essential piece of the puzzle… .”

He has twice won the Outstanding Recent Contribution Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA). He has served on and chaired committees of the ASA and Pacific Sociological Association (PSA), and edited Sociological Theory, the major theory journal of the ASA. Turner also is a past president of the PSA and the California Sociological Association.

He has lectured around the world and is a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, a life member of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2009 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Emotions Section of the ASA.

Turner said he plans to organize very small mini-conferences that focus on important topics that bring UC faculty and non-UC faculty together from diverse disciplines such as world-systems analysis, the neurology of the brain as it affects behavior, the nature of human nature, evolutionary theory in the social sciences, the dynamics of human identities, the nature of human emotions, and other such topics that are inherently interdisciplinary.

“These kinds of topics are what interest me, and I think many others,” he said. “The goal is to have a short, focused engagement of scholars and perhaps selected graduate students.”


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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