MTSU Legend Diane Turnham Named 2019 Tempest Award Recipient


For more than 35 years, MTSU’s Associate Athletic Director Diane Turnham has fought to ensure women athletes have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

“For anyone who knows Diane, or who knows her reputation, she blazes a trail,” said Dia Cirillo, AAUW-Murfreesboro Branch president, “a trail especially for college women athletes.”

Turnham will be honored with the Tempest Award at the third annual Equali-Tea, which will be held 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the MTSU Miller Education Center, 503 E Bell St, in Murfreesboro.

The Tempest Award is given annually to honor an individual in Middle Tennessee who has acted to address the systemic barriers to equity for women and girls and thereby has contributed to the mission of the American Association of University Women.

Turnham was chosen for her work supporting female student-athletes at MTSU and other universities.

Turnham began her career with the Blue Raiders as women’s volleyball head coach and an assistant women’s basketball coach under Larry Joe Inman, who was her high school coach.
She then spent 13 years coaching and eventually joined the athletic administration, where she now works as senior associate athletic director as well as oversees Title IX compliance and the state of women’s athletics at MTSU.

It’s a job Turnham said taken seriously.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was first written to ensure female athletes received similar support as male athletes. It has transformed from ensuring funding and opportunities to including sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence, Turnham said.

For example, Turnham has conducted training with all student-athletes to review state sexual assault laws and how alcohol changes consent.

Over the course of her career with the Blue Raiders, Turnham was voted MTSU’s employee of the year for 2001-02, has served two stints as the department’s interim athletic director and was elected into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Equali-Tea raises scholarship and programming funds for the Middle Tennessee Fund for Women and Girls, a nonprofit organization in support of the mission of AAUW Murfreesboro: to level the playing field for women and girls in education and in the workforce.

Reservations are required and offered at no cost. Attendees will be invited to make a contribution to the Fund at the event. Your sponsorship of the event and your donation are both tax-deductible.

Phyllis Washington
Phyllis Washington

The 2019 Equal-Tea will be presented by two Rutherford County women, who have had a great impact on the community.

Chaired this year by 2018 Tempest Recipient Phyllis Washington and United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties CEO Meagan Flippin, Equali-Tea is a social, fundraiser, and educational program all in one.

One could say that supporting the next generation has been the central missing of Washington’s life. A long-time educator, Washington was honored as the 2018 Tempest Award recipient at the second annual Equali-TEA.

Washington was chosen because of her dedication throughout her career to students, first at MTSU where her work enabled her to help thousands of African-American students and then for Rutherford County Schools.

Washington said she volunteered to co-chair the fundraiser because she is called to serve others.

“I believe it is important to volunteer as a Co-Chair for the Equali-TEA because I feel that if I can have an impact on any initiative that will help to level the playing field for women when it comes to educational and career opportunities; it is my duty and a privilege to serve,” she said. “Providing scholarships for women will certainly help them to achieve their goals and their dreams since lack of adequate financial resources, many times, is the barrier they face.”

Washington is joined by MTSU alumna Meagan Flippin, who was named the president and CEO of United Way in 2013. Since she took the reigns, United Way has a grown to have a multi-million dollar annual impact on the community by advancing opportunities in education, health and financial stability.

Meagan Flippin
Meagan Flippin

“I believe this is an excellent opportunity to bring awareness to women’s issues as well as generate funds to support critical scholarships for women in our community, both of which are personally important to me,” Flippin said.

For more information about the 2018 Equali-TEA, visit or send us an email at [email protected].

The (hats optional) High Tea also marks Equal Pay Day, the day that symbolizes how long women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

In addition to marking Equal Pay Day, the high tea event will help raise funds for two AAUW Murfreesboro scholarships that are offered to MTSU students.

The Ruth Houston Memorial Scholarship supports women 24 years and older who are returning to finish their undergraduate degree. Applicants must demonstrate academic promise and financial need.

In 2015, the group marked its 100th anniversary by creating a second scholarship, named for long-time AAUW members Mattie Butler and Leola Fouts.

The Butler-Fouts Graduate Scholarship is presented to female graduate students from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups. Applicants must demonstrate academic promise and financial need as well as be enrolled in a graduate program at MTSU.
Each scholarship will provide $2,000 for the school year 2018-19.

Equal-TEA is brought to you by MTSU June S. Anderson Center for Women & Nontraditional Students, Jennifer A. Sexton & Associates and Keynote Speaker Sponsor First Tennessee Bank. Sponsorships are still available.

About AAUW Murfreesboro

Organized in 1913, AAUW Murfreesboro is a membership organization of college-educated individuals from all walks of life who share a common purpose—to level the playing field for women and girls in education and in the workplace.

Our branch does this through advocacy, education, and research. We are part of a national and state network that supports our work right here in Murfreesboro. Our national organization (200,000 members strong) is a powerful voice on women’s issues in Washington, D.C. Our Tennessee organization unifies our presence throughout the state, bringing together all nine branches in Memphis, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, McMinnville, Martin, Knoxville, Maryville, and Oak Ridge.

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