Charles J. Turck
Centre College President (1927-1936)
Charles Joseph Turck was born on September 13, 1890, in New Orleans. He received his bachelor of arts from Tulane University in 1911, and a law degree from Columbia University in 1913. Turck became professor of law at Tulane in 1916, and in 1920 professor of law and secretary of the law school at Vanderbilt University. In 1924 he moved again, this time to Lexington to become Dean of the University of Kentucky Law School. Turck was elected to the presidency of Centre College in 1927, and inaugurated in February 1928.
After the controversy surrounding R. Ames Montgomery and his resignation, Centre needed a young, energetic president to guide the college. Turck was already widely known throughout the state, author of several books and articles, and even though a layman (he would become only the second lay president, Ormand Beatty being the first), his talents made him especially suited for the position. Among Turck's many accomplishments at Centre was his success at retaining the college's membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Turck was primarily a man of intellectual pursuits, and refused to allow the college, with its rich tradition of academic excellence, to slide into mediocrity for the sake of athletics. His efforts to restore Centre's academic standing were soon rewarded with membership in the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
One of the challenges facing Turck on assuming the presidency was continuing the process begun under his predecessor of incorporating the former Kentucky College for Women into Centre. The women's campus was fairly modern with adequate facilities, but Turck undertook a minor, though needed, renovation effort. On the men's campus, remodeling of Old Centre began in 1929. The landmark would now serve as an administration building, though until McReynolds Hall was completed in 1940, it also functioned as the dining hall. Breckinridge Hall and the stadium were also renovated during this period.
Turck left Centre in 1936 to accept a position on the Kentucky state tax commission, and later served as president of Macalester College from 1939 until 1958. Following retirement from Macalester, he served as Executive Director of Japan International Christian University Foundation, and remained active in public, church, and educational affairs. Turck died on January 12, 1989.