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Turkish students expected on campus next fall

By : Sarah Lifshin

The joint-degree program between SUNY and Turkey will not only prove to be a remarkable opportunity for Turkish students but also for the Binghamton campus, University officials said last week.

"This is not going to be a sheltered program and that kind of impact will be measurable for our students here," said H. Stephen Straight, BU vice provost for academic affairs. "The interest in the (Turkish) language and culture is already mushrooming."

Straight provided an update on the joint-degree program during a luncheon last week for visiting Turkish dignitaries on hand for a special recognition ceremony celebrating the unique collaboration.

Süleyman Demirel, former president of Turkey, was awarded a SUNY citation from Chancellor Robert L. King. Kemal Gürüz, president of the Higher Education Council of Turkey, was conferred with the honorary doctor of humane letters by the chancellor and President Lois B. DeFleur.

Beginning this fall, students in Turkey can enroll in programs that will to study in the United States and earn dual degrees from their home universities in Turkey, as well as a SUNY diploma.

Binghamton is offering joint degrees in global and international affairs, and information systems. The first Turkish participants are expected in Binghamton next fall. Eventually, up to 500 Turkish students a year could participate in the program. In addition, American students will be encouraged to pursue similar study programs in Turkey.

"Turkey does have a lot to offer and higher education is one of the areas that we have a lot of strengths," said Gürüz, who has been a key participant in the planning. "We can be equal partners with our American friends."

The program, which offers 10 areas of study, attracted nearly 3,500 applicants for the fall semester from the upper 10 percent of Turkish high school graduates, said Robert Gosende, SUNY associate vice chancellor for international programs.

Straight said that BU has made many strides since the program was first proposed. For the second year, the University is hosting a Fulbright teaching assistant who is offering a number of Turkish-related courses.

The publicity surrounding the program has also shown a tremendous payoff for Binghamton with the number of Turkish students applying directly to the University steadily increasing.

Ellen Badger, director of international student and scholar services, said that 75 Turkish students, unaffiliated with the joint-degree program, are attending classes at BU this semester.

"It is the highest number we've ever had," said Badger, adding that there were only 57 Turkish students on campus last fall.

Straight said the joint-degree program would further help in the globalization of the campus.

"We have on this campus the unprecedented opportunity to partner with some of the best universities in developing some creative new programs and the expansion of existing programs of high quality for the best students in Turkey,?"Straight said."But there is a tremendous payoff for our own students and faculty and for our own institution." SUNY?s Gossende agreed: "What we can do together is better than what we can do separately."

Demirel said he looks forward to eventually seeing the two systems offering additional degrees.

"I want my university at the level of Binghamton, at the level of Cornell," Demirel said. "I am not an educational person, you are the educators and I am not going to tell you how it should be done, but together we can supply the resources."

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Last Updated: 10/14/08