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GEM Program thanks Col. John Turner for years of service, congratulates him on retirement

June 12, 2013

Col. John Turner, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Global Energy Management (GEM) Program at the University of Colorado Denver’s Business School, will retire on July 2 after nearly two and a half decades of service.

Col. John Turner, Ph,D.

Col. John Turner, Ph.D.

“I am extremely proud to have had the privilege of being a member of the Business School for the past 25 years,” Turner said. “I value the friendships I have developed with everyone in the Business School and the University. I will miss you all dearly.”

In 2008, Turner was approached by several energy firms with offices in Denver to build and lead the Global Energy Management Program. He was appointed as Director of the GEM program when it launched in 2008, and he was later promoted to Executive Director in 2010.

“Creating the GEM Program in partnership with energy companies, key government stakeholders and professional energy associations is what I consider as my crowning achievement over a long and distinguished career in the military and in education,” Turner said.

GEM’s Sarah Derdowski, Director of Operations, had the pleasure of working with Turner since the start of the program in August 2008 when she shared a 10’x10’ office with him and one other person.

“John Turner, or JT, as I like to refer to him, is first and foremost a great person,” Derdowski said. “He sees the good in everyone and believes and trusts in his people. He encourages you to challenge him on topics and issues and really get to the root of a problem.”

Turner’s passion for the GEM program also kept his staff motivated.

“As serious as John can be about issues he is also young at heart,” Derdowski said. “He loves to raz people, whether that is putting on a Halloween mask during October and going around scaring people, during campaign seasons sending around fun political emails or always having a joke about something. There is something to be said about taking life too seriously and JT certainly gets that.”

The GEM Program is proud of its global reach having a variety of international faculty members and students. Turner laid the foundation of the world-wide program and guided its rapid growth.

“The GEM Program owes its existence to John,” said Cathy Steffek, GEM Director of External Affairs. “His enthusiasm, perseverance and hard work has created one of the most innovative and successful graduate programs in the United States. He will be greatly missed by the GEM team.”

This June also marks a milestone for the prestigious program as Cohort X will begin the program in July. GEM will have nearly 150 alumni following Cohort VII’s graduation next week.

Turner has left the program in good hands. Jim Marchiori, a GEM Program Advisory Council member and special projects manager at International Human Resources Development Corporation, has accepted the position as Interim Executive Director.

“The GEM program provides a unique service to the energy industry and a unique opportunity for leadership in one of the most vital parts of people’s lives,” Marchiori said. “John’s vision, persistence, and patience have given all of us in the GEM community the chance to help not just the people who produce our energy, but everyone who uses energy as well.

“Like the program itself, I would not be here without John – I am personally grateful to him for the chance to serve first on the Advisory Council and now, even if it is just for a short time, to follow him in the Executive Director role. I wish him well as he embarks on the next stage of his life.”

Derdowski, Steffek, and Sarah Loughran, GEM Director of Programs & Stakeholder Relations, will continue in their director roles.

“I enjoyed working with John and his enthusiasm for the GEM students and team,” Loughran said. “He truly cares about each individual and their successes. I’ll miss John’s sense of humor, his confidence in the team and his willingness to put the GEM program and team first in his life.”

Turner considers one of his greatest accomplishments selecting and hiring the GEM Program staff who he refers to as the “best in the business.”

“The opportunity to work daily with the GEM team will be one of the things I miss most in my retirement,” said Turner, who will move to Sarasota, Florida to retire and live closer to family, fellow ex-professors and military colleagues. “I consider the team as the finest in the world. All the credit for this program and its success is due to their hard work and dedication. Without them, this program would not have been able to deliver and guarantee to the energy industry the caliber and quality of graduates that have come out of the program. They are the true leaders of the GEM Program.”

Turner is also grateful to the GEM professors, CU Denver, and the Business School’s staff & faculty.

“I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all of the GEM students, alumni, professors in addition to the tireless GEM staff, the support and encouragement from our Business School Deans as well as everyone in the Business School,” Turner said. “I would also like to thank the entire cadre of industry people (past and present) on the GEM Advisory Council for helping me create and deliver the GEM Program, the best energy leadership program in the world. Jim Marchiori will be an excellent replacement for me and will continue the tradition of relevance and excellence we have established for the GEM Program.”

Turner started his career at the Business School in 1988 as an Adjunct Professor of Finance while stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. He retired at the rank of Colonel in 2001 and became a full time member of the finance faculty. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from St. Louis University.

During his 25 years as a faculty member, he was called to active military duty multiple times. In 2001, John retired after 35 years of service in the US Air Force. He originally enlisted in the Air Force and served five years in the enlisted ranks before he was given a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant in 1971.

“My life’s greatest pleasure has been the opportunity to know and work with each and every one of you,” Turner said. “To paraphrase Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek TV series, I say to you all: ‘Live Long and Prosper.’ I will miss you all tremendously.”

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