Erdogan’s War on Academia Extends to Turkey’s Top University

The picking of a loyalist as caretaker to lead Turkey’s most prestigious university reveals Erdogan’s longstanding push to totally subdue the academic landscape.

Anti-riot police use tear gas to disperse protesting students in front of Istanbul Bogazici University on Monday. (Photo Credit: AP)

My alma mater Boğaziçi University is a sister school of AUC and AUB. They survived dictatorships and civil wars. Boğaziçi, too, had survived military coups and countless political turmoils. This has been the most egregious assault against a 150-year-old academic institution, by the Erdogan regime.

This past weekend, Melih Bulu, an official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was picked by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a caretaker to administer Bogazici University, widely seen as the beacon of Turkey’s westernized, secular, and elite education in academia. But this does not necessarily mean that the college is off-limits to pious students or some staff members. It means that the college has predominantly been shaped and populated by secular figures for most of its history. Yet, this complexion never compromised the level of its quality. It is this near-impeccable record of success that confer considerable prestige upon the college. The Bogazici alumni include former PM Tansu Ciller, former PM Ahmet Davutoglu, and the new Rector. Among them, the latest has been the subject of intense public controversy over his unremarkable academic career.

Virginia-based journalist and writer. Politics, culture, art, and technology. American political affairs, Turkey, the MidEast, and beyond. Twitter: @abyasun

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