December 1, 2014

In gratitude for a wonderful career

Fortunate is the graduate who can reflect on her college years and name a professor whose influence has shaped her life and career. For Paula Brown Stafford, one of those professors was Craig Turnbull, PhD.

Pat and Craig Turnbull (Photo by Princess Cruises)

Pat and Craig Turnbull (Photo by Princess Cruises)

Turnbull established the UNC biostatistics department’s Bachelor of Science in Public Health program in 1975 and led it until his retirement in 2006. The program was the first of its kind in the country and has served as a model for others. Turnbull was on the UNC public health school’s faculty for 35 years, enabling hundreds of students to find rewarding careers in public health and medicine.

Brown Stafford (BSPH, 1986; MPH, 1992), president of clinical development at Quintiles and of the School’s Public Health Foundation board, says she is grateful for Turnbull’s mentorship and the career the program empowered her to have. That is why she and her husband, Gregory W. Stafford, have established the Craig D. Turnbull Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“I am honored to have worked for Quintiles for 29 years and have the financial ability to recognize not only the School, but the biostatistics program and Craig Turnbull,” she says. “Greg and I set up the fund in a way that will allow others also to give in Dr. Turnbull’s name to help support future BSPH students in biostatistics.”

Brown Stafford describes being a sophomore without a major. A biostatistics student in her dorm recommended she pay a visit to Dr. Turnbull.

“I remember meeting this enthusiastic professor who had frog paraphernalia throughout his office,” she says. “He showed such passion! As he shared details of the BSPH program, I knew it was the perfect fit for me.”

In her junior year, she learned of Quintiles, then a start-up company, and applied for an internship. That led to a full-time position after graduation.

“If it weren’t for Craig Turnbull,” Brown Stafford says, “I wouldn’t have been at the right place at the right time to be blessed by such a wonderful career.”

—Elizabeth Witherspoon

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