Michael C. Turpen, from Oklahoma City, was appointed as an Oklahoma State Regent by Gov. Brad Henry in May 2009, serving a nine-year term ending in May 2018. In May 2018, he was reappointed by Gov. Mary Fallin for a second nine-year term ending in May 2027. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is the constitutional coordinating board for the Oklahoma colleges and universities responsible for allocating state funds and setting admission standards and academic policies.
Turpen was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, educated in Tulsa Public Schools, and graduated from The University of Tulsa, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in History and a Juris Doctor degree. In 1982, Turpen was elected Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. He served as Muskogee County District Attorney from 1977-82. Since 1987, Turpen has been a partner in the law firm of Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis in Oklahoma City.
While no longer serving in public office, Turpen remains politically active. He appears weekly on Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR’s award-winning public affairs show, “Flashpoint.” He had a long-running monthly column, “Turpen Time,” for the OPEA monthly newspaper and was a featured columnist for Microsoft’s internet magazine, Slate. Turpen is a nationally sought after public speaker, having keynoted conferences of the National Association of Attorneys General, the Fourth Federal Judicial Circuit, and the National Family and Juvenile Judges’ Association.
Turpen has received numerous awards, honors and appointments. In 2018, he was the recipient of the inaugural Aubrey McClendon Visionary Award by Allied Arts. In 2017, Turpen and his wife received the Jasmine Moran Award for Outstanding Community Service. In 2010, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In 2008, he received the Oklahoma Arts Council Governor’s Award for Community Service; Treasurers for Tomorrow Award rom the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation; and the Urban Pioneer Award from the Plaza District Association. In 2007, Turpen received the Oklahoma Bar Association’s William Paul Distinguished Service Award; recognition from the Clinton Global Initiative for his work with Burns Hargis for Legal Aid of Oklahoma; the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Oklahoma Chapter; and the John F. Kennedy Award for Community Service, given by the Oklahoma City Knights of Columbus.
In 2006, Turpen received the John Kirkpatrick Award from Lyric Theatre for his leadership in chairing its successful $10 million capital campaign. In 2004, the courtroom at The University of Tulsa College of Law was named the Price-Turpen Courtroom to honor Turpen’s service to his alma mater. In 2004, he also received the National Association of Attorneys General Francis X. Bellotti Award for outstanding service to the association. In 2003, Turpen served as honorary chairman of the Urban League of Oklahoma City. In 2002, he established the Melvin C. Hall Leadership Scholarship at Langston University.
In 2000, he was named Outstanding Alumnus for The University of Tulsa. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the President’s Advisory Council on the Arts at the Kennedy Center in 1992. In 1986, he was the recipient of the National Foundation for the Improvement of Justice Award and was honored by the National Organization for Victim Assistance as one of Ten Outstanding National Leaders in the Field of Victim Rights over the past decade. Turpen was listed in Esquire Magazine’s 1985 Register: Men and Women Under Forty Who are Changing the Nation. In 1980, he was the winner of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Maurice Merrill Golden Quill Award for outstanding contributions to the Oklahoma Bar Journal.
In 1979, Turpen was named Outstanding Young Man by the Muskogee Jaycees and Outstanding Young Oklahoman by the Oklahoma Jaycees. In 1975, he was selected by the Oklahoma Bar Association as Oklahoma’s Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Turpen’s interests are many and varied. He is president of the Lyric Theatre Board of Directors and serves on the boards of The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Oklahoma State Fair Board, United Way, and Allied Arts. He is a member of the Oklahoma Academy of State Goals, Rotary Club, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and The Creativity Project. Turpen has served as president and board member of the CARE Center, OKC. He is the founder of The Young Men’s Poetry Club. Turpen argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1985. He served as president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, vice president of the National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA), and vice chairman of Oklahoma’s Crime Commission. Turpen is a member of the American, Oklahoma, Tulsa County and Oklahoma County bar associations, as well as a Founding Fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation and a faculty member of the National College of District Attorneys.