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UC alumna appointed interim senior vice president of External Relations and Communications

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Meredith Turner
Photo credit: Sargeant Creative

University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., has selected Meredith Vivian Turner to be interim senior vice president of External Relations and Communications at the UC Office of the President. The appointment was approved today (May 16, 2024) by the UC Board of Regents and effective May 17, 2024.

Turner succeeds Michael Reese, whose interim appointment as senior vice president concludes on June 30. Turner was selected after a competitive national recruitment process and will assume the role on an interim basis for one year or until the appointment of a permanent senior vice president.

An experienced government relations and communications leader, Turner brings a deep understanding of the public higher education landscape and extensive ties to the University of California. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz and former president of its alumni board, Turner has served in multiple roles at the UC Office of the President since 2016. She previously spent her career advocating for public higher education in California and empowering student voices through roles at the California State University system and the California State Senate.

“I am thrilled to see Meredith step into this important role, leading the external engagement and communications efforts at the Office of the President. I am confident that in the months ahead, she will prove to be a successful UC advocate and leader of the External Relations and Communications Division,” said President Drake. “Meredith brings deep experience and expertise to this role. She has forged strong relationships with and has earned support from our Regents, chancellors, legislators and key UC advocates. I am particularly pleased to be promoting a UC-grown leader from within our organization to give continuity of leadership to ER&C, whose talented and experienced staff know and respect Meredith from her work as chief of staff under two senior vice presidents.”

Turner’s portfolio will include all University-wide internal and external communications and outreach, state and federal governmental relations, and advancement and alumni relations in support of UC’s tripartite mission of education, research and public service.

Turner is currently the chief of staff of External Relations and Communications at the Office of the President, where she serves as a strategic thought partner to the SVP and other senior leadership, drives divisional communications and governmental relations priorities, leads the division’s work with the Board of Regents, and cultivates influential external partnerships. Turner’s previous work in UC’s Office of State Governmental Relations enhanced the university’s relationships with state policymakers and transformed the university’s advocacy programs.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the University of California in such an impactful role,” said Turner. “I know first-hand the transformative power of a UC education, and I look forward to working with a talented team and so many UC advocates on elevating the University’s positive impact on California communities.”

Prior to her time at UC, Turner held several roles with the Cal State Student Association at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, elevating its state and federal governmental relations function into a dynamic, high touch-advocacy model. Turner also served as communications manager for then-State Senator Lou Correa and has worked and volunteered on several local, state and national campaigns.

Turner has volunteered on the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Board since 2016, holding leadership positions as vice president of administration, president, and currently as the immediate past president. She served as an ex-officio trustee on the UC Santa Cruz Foundation Board from 2020–2022.

Turner is the recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation, as well as several CASE awards for her advocacy work at UC and CSU. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California. 

Turner’s base annual salary will be $345,000. UC’s top executives comprise less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all employees. Their combined earnings equate to less than one-half of 1 percent of UC’s systemwide gross compensation. More details on Turner’s appointment may be found in the Regents’ item.

Turner lives in Sacramento with her husband Brian, a fellow UC Santa Cruz alumnus, and their almost six-year-old son, Liam. 

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