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Farewell from the Chair of the School Board

alidogramaci As one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban settlements on earth, Erbil is known for its rich history of tolerance and its capacity to bring together people of different backgrounds. Bilkent’s founder flourished in this Erbil environment. He grew up to serve humanity, promoting better health and education in many places by establishing world-class foundations, schools and universities. The last one he created, the İhsan Doğramacı Bilkent Erbil College, is one of a large family of Bilkent schools. It shares with them the following features:

  1. The Bilkent Educational Philosophy: We provide the students with a solid background in the sciences and arts. The world we live in is rich in diversity with different ways of life and different ways of thinking. Bilkent schools promote respect for and understanding of this diversity. We encourage students to be participative and constructive individuals and critical thinkers, so that they will be prepared to take full advantage of university education whether in their own country or elsewhere.
  2. Multilingual Education: Bilkent students learn to speak and think in different languages in order to be able to express their thoughts effectively across the world and understand and respect how others think.
  3. Teaching and Administrative Staff: Appointments are based on internationally recognized professional excellence, not on nationality.
  4. Non-Profit Institutions: The sum of the tuition fees paid by the students’ families covers only a fraction of the annual school budget. Outstanding education requires immense resources: the buildings and equipment are expensive; qualified teachers require competitive salaries and support for continued professional development. İhsan Doğramacı Bilkent University and Foundations (in brief the Bilkent endowments) have covered the difference between income and costs.

From the inception of this project in 2008, until mid-2016, the total expenditures of the school (capital plus operating) had amounted to some $54 million, of which over $47 million had been subsidized by the Bilkent endowments. By the summer of 2017, this subsidy will reach $50 million, and Bilkent will then withdraw from the project.

Having built the school from scratch and shown by example how excellent teachers and administrators can be recruited, Bilkent’s departure will be like removing the training wheels and turning over the bicycle (school) to local Erbil people. My fellow Board Members and I are grateful to the teachers and administrators who have come from corners of the world far and near to work in Erbil and to contribute to this wonderful project.

We in Turkey would like our neighbors to connect harmoniously to the world, to be prosperous and to live in peace. The Erbil school project is our modest contribution toward these objectives.

Every year Bilkent’s mission is reiterated in the second page of the annual catalog of the university. The first sentence of the mission statement reads as follows: “Bilkent University was founded to provide an environment for learning and intellectual growth encompassing the sciences, technology, humanities and the arts, to serve human welfare and foster peace on earth.”

Individuals and institutions contributing voluntarily to the well-being of their neighbors, while asking nothing in return, is the Bilkent spirit. We hope our spirit is contagious.

Ali Doğramacı