Boğaziçi University rector appointed by Erdoğan vows to ‘protect pluralism and free-thought’

Boğaziçi University rector appointed by Erdoğan vows to ‘protect pluralism and free-thought’

Boğaziçi University rector appointed by Erdoğan vows to ‘protect pluralism and free-thought’ Professor Mehmed Özkan, who was directly appointed to Istanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 12 under a state of emergency decree, has vowed to protect the university’s tradition of pluralism and free-thought.

“I will work to continue to increase the success of our university in academic and scientific fields, protecting the participatory, pluralistic and free tradition. I will work with all my strength to carry Boğaziçi’s values to the future, which will be the essential priority during my rectorship period,” Özkan said in his first message issued to academics at the university.

“The academic and ethical principals of Boğaziçi Univesity, which have been formed over many years, are the guiding light in this endeavor. In this context, I also want to emphasize my determination to implement a transparent and principled administrative approach,” he added.

President Erdoğan appointed Özkan as the rector of the university on Nov. 12, after he was given authority to directly appoint rectors without having to consider the preferences of academics following the imposition of a state of emergency decree on Oct. 29. 

Meanwhile, police on Nov. 14 detained a group of students protesting Özcan’s appointment.

Police initially did not permit the group’s march from the university’s south campus to the north campus.

 However, students were later allowed to stage the march in three groups, accompanied by academics.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputies Ali Şeker and Onursal Adıgüzel were also present at the protest, but they drew a negative reaction from some academics over alleged “politicization” of the march.

Clashes erupted between some students and police during the march. Police detained two students but later released them after a brief identity check.

The group eventually entered the north campus chanting slogans and holding banners.

A former lecturer in Boğaziçi University’s biomedical engineering department, Özkan was not among candidates in the rectorship elections on July 12.

After his appointment, the university’s outgoing rector Gülay Barbarosoğlu announced late on Nov. 12 that she would be putting an end to her academic career. She had won 86 percent of the vote on a turnout of 90 percent in the July rectorship election.

With the state of emergency decree, rectorship elections will no longer take place at Turkish universities and the president will directly appoint all rectors.