Turkey's President Directly Appoints Rector to Istanbul's Bogazici University

November 14, 2016

On November 12, 2016, Mehmed Özkan, was directly appointed to Istanbul’s prestigious Bogazici University by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, marking the first such move after he was given the authority to directly appoint rectors following the latest state of emergency decree.



Former rector Gülay Barbarosoğlu announced she will end her academic career.


“I’m leaving the university that I’ve contributed to as a student, academic, and a director for 40 years. I’m also ending my academic career,” Barbarosoğlu said in a statement on November 12, as she thanked her co-workers and students. 


“I’m sure that Boğaziçi University will maintain its existence in the future with the help of its history, tradition, principles and outstanding cadre,” she added. 


The new rector Mehmed Özkan is a professor at the university’s biomedical engineering department. 


The power to directly appoint rectors without having to consider the preferences of academics was given to the president after the imposition of a state of emergency decree on October 29, 2016. 


In a press release, more than 350 academics at the university denounced the changes, recalling that the University appointed its rector on July 12,  2016, by re-electing the well known current rector Gülay Barbarosoğlu. 


The regulation brings an end to the practice that introduced in 1992, which declares that rector candidates are elected by the academics at the universities before being presented to the president. The president then can either accept the recommendation or choose another person as rector. According to the new regulation, the president will choose from three rector candidates determined by Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) for state universities. However, the president will be able to appoint a rector directly if he does not select one of those presented by YÖK within a month and the body does not present a new candidate. The rectors will be able to work for a maximum of two terms in state universities.



Endangered Scholars Worldwide Supports Academics under Attack in Turkey


This war against academics started long before the attempted coup. On January 10 of this year, a group of scholars calling themselves Academics for Peace signed an open letter calling on the Turkish government to end its violence in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the signatories and the organizers of treason and called for them to be punished. The Turkish judiciary system initiated public prosecutions under Turkish anti-terror laws, alleging defamation of the Turkish state and accusing signatories of spreading “terrorist organization propaganda.” Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK) ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed.


Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the detention of and professional retaliation against academics and human rights activists in Turkey in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to both of which Turkey is a party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale.  


We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the academic freedom of scholars and academics. 


Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls on the United Nations General Assembly, and member governments, to put pressure on the Turkish government and express concern over the actions taken by Turkish officials against universities and higher education establishments in Turkey.


Please join The New School, the home of the original University in Exile and Endangered Scholars Worldwide, in calling on Turkish authorities to:


  • cease their attacks on Turkish academics and universities;

  • free those who have been arrested without cause;

  • allow those who wish to travel freely outside the country to do so; and

  • make Turkish universities once again the havens of freedom of inquiry and free expression that all great universities must be.



Please Appeal to: 


Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım

Office of Prime Minister


06573 Ankara, Turkey

Administrative Aide, Ozel Kalem Mudurlugu Fax: ++90 312 403 62 82

Public Relations Department Fax: ++ 90 312 422 26 67



Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı (President of Turkey) 



İsmail Kahraman 

Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı (President of the Turkish National Grand Assembly) 



Bekir Bozdağ 

Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Adalet Bakanı (Justice Minister of the Republic of Turkey)




Yekta Saraç 

Türkiye Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu (YÖK) Başkanı (President of the Council of Higher Education)


011 90 312 266 47 59


Serdar Kılıç 

Turkish Ambassador to the United States

Fax: +1 202 612 67 44



İsmet Yılmaz

Milli Eğitim Bakanı (Minister of National Education) 

Atatürk Bulvarı No: 98 06650 Bakanlıklar Ankara, Turkey 

Fax: +90 312 4188289, +90 (312) 417 70 27



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