Nov. 10, 1994
Vol. 15, No. 6

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    Endowment initiated for Turkish-studies chair

    With a gift from the government of Turkey, the University has initiated an endowment fund to establish the Kanuni Sueleyman Professorship in Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies.

    The government of Turkey has contributed $200,000 to the fund, with a commitment to contribute half of the $1.5 million needed to establish the chair, provided the University raises matching funds within the next two years.

    The chair is named in honor of Sueleyman the Magnificent, a sultan who ruled from 1520 to 1566, during a period of great power and influence for the Ottoman Empire.

    "The Turkish challenge grant is welcome for two reasons: It helps us to continue a strong tradition of research and teaching in the field of Turkish studies, and it reinforces our entire Middle East program -- a program that is a major component of the University's long-standing emphasis on international studies," said Rashid Khalidi, Associate Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

    Turkish Ambassador Nuezhet Kandemir, who presented the first part of the gift during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., praised the University and its Center for Middle Eastern Studies for the work of the Turkish-studies program.

    "The founding of the Kanuni Sueleyman chair emphasizes, in a most concrete way, Turkey's relevance in international relations. It is also a tangible expression of cooperation in education between Turkey and the United States, which certainly furthers the friendship, alliance and partnership that have existed between our two nations for nearly half a century," Kandemir said.

    Chicago faculty members have conducted much anthropological and archaeological research on Turkey and have published extensively on many topics related to Turkish history and culture. The University Library has a large collection of Turkish materials -- including 18,000 volumes in Ottoman and 18,000 volumes in modern Turkish -- that is consulted by scholars from around the world. The University also places strong emphasis on teaching Turkish, and students of Turkish at the University have regularly participated in a summer language program at Bosphorus University in Turkey.

    In addition to initiating the endowment of a chair at the University, the Turkish government also has initiated chairs in Turkish studies at Georgetown and Princeton and plans to initiate a chair at Harvard.