The roots of Bogazici University goes back to the middle of the 19th century to Robert College. A brief chronological account is as follows:
Christopher Robert, a wealthy American industrialist has plans to establish in Turkey a modern university along American lines with instruction in English. At that time, Cyrus Hamlin was an American schoolmaster who had been running a school, a bakery and a laundry in Bebek. The two men, an educator and a philanthropist, successfully collaborated to found Robert College.
1864: A Charter from the State of New York
The Board of Regents of the State of New York granted a charter to Robert College enabling it to confer the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Also, in 1864, a Board of Trustees was formed with Robert as its first Chairman. It is this very same Board of Trustees which has continued governing and supporting the school since then. Robert’s initial personal contribution of $30.000 has since been augmented by the generosity of countless individuals.
1869: Imperial decree
An imperial decree, an ‘’irade’’, from Sultan Abdülaziz confirmed the right of the college to operate as an educational institution and gave it permission to build a proper campus on the heights of Rumelihisar. Hamlin immediately set to work on the new campus. His first building is a good example of the innovative aspect of the college spirit. Citing Hamlin Hall as the first example of truly modern use of steel girders, the historian Arnold Toynbee noted, ‘’…it was built by an imaginative amateur on the shores of the Bosphorus, (and) not until the following century did the seeds sown by Hamlin begin to bear fruit in North America and in Western Europe.’’
1870-1923: Ottoman years
The initial founding efforts of Hamlin and Robert flourished. The college grew in size and scope and by the early 20th century, Robert College had become a leading institution in the Middle East. Important presidents in this period were George Washburn (1877-1903) and Caleb Gates (1903-1932). The college also received generous donations by such benefactors as John S. Kennedy, Olivia Stokes and members of the Dodge and Huntington families. Recall that these presidents and benefactors are remembered by such building on the campus as Kennedy House, Hamlin Hall, Washburn Hall, and Anderson Hall. In this period the composition of its student body reflected the diverse ethnicity of the Ottoman Empire.
1923 – 1971: Republican years
With the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the school focused on educating the young of the Republic. The transition was a smooth one, helped by past graduates. Indeed, the first Turkish co-director of the school, Hüseyin Pektaş, was a double milestone, by also being the first Moslem boy to graduate from the college. Throughout the transitional period of the Turkish nation from a monarchic empire to a modern republic, the college maintained the strict political neutrality expected from an academic institution. Thus, its education of the leaders of the future went on without interruption, much to the benefit of the young republic.
1959 : A high-education institution
Robert College has gained the status of a high-education institution consisting of the Faculties of Business Administration and Economics, Engineering, Art & Sciences, and Education.
1971: From Robert College to Boğaziçi University
After many years of cooperation and coordination, Robert College Yüksek Okulu passed under the jurisdiction of Turkish Government in 1971. One driving force at the time was the development of a National University system in Turkey and Trustees of Robert College demonstrated their recognition of contemporary realities. Robert College vacated its Rumelihisarı campus, and donated its university facilities to the Turkish Government. In the words of the Protocol of May 18, 1971, the means were provided, ‘’…by which the Government of Turkey may utilize elements of Robert College Yüksek Okulu as the foundation for a university…’’
1971-1982: Graduate studies start
Albeit its meager resources, the first graduate courses and graduate degree programs start in this period. Notably with the generation of Yorgo İstefanopulos (MIT) in 1973, Hüseyin Abut (North Carolina State University), Okan Ersoy (Purdue University), Bülent Sankur (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and Okyay Kaynak (University of Birmingham) graduate courses and programs proliferate and the BUEE starts M.Sc. and Ph.D degrees. Dr. Tangül Başerdem becomes the first PhD graduate not only of the EE Department but of the whole Bogazici University.
1982-1992: The YÖK (Institute of Higher Education) Years
With the institution of Yüksek Öğrenim Kurumu law, the universities in Turkey were streamlined and their control was more centralized. With several budding universities in Anatolian cities regularization of higher education was a necessity although it was not always beneficial for the more developed universities. Our Department had more research funding in those years and our staff increased with the joining of Selim Şeker (University of Washington), and Avni Morgül (İstanbul Tehnical University), Feza Keresteci (University of Manchester), Ayşın Baytan Ertüzün (Boğaziçi University), Yağmur Denizhan (Boğaziçi University) and Yasemin Palandüz Kahya (Boğaziçi University).
1992-2002: Research funding and laboratories
The country had set on a course of research funding and there was an increased awareness among Turkish academicians for international publications and citations. This reflected to our Department as well: there was a surge in the number of publications and funded research projects, and several new research laboratories were established. Among the new faculty joining our Department we can cite Levent Arslan (Duke University), Günhan Dündar (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Kemal Cılız (University of Rochester), Işıl Bozma (Yale University), Hakan Deliç (University of South Louisiana), Oğuzhan Çiçekoğlu (İstanbul Technical University).
2002-Present: A national leader with international recognition
With the 21st century BUEE has acquired international accreditation, as it gained the certificate of quality in education by ABET (Accreditation Board of Education in Technology), successively, in 1999, 2004 and 2009. Our research publications soared, several new research laboratories were established, a multitude of international exchange agreements were signed, several major projects were won on both international and national levels. During this period several new faculty members joined our Department: Burak Acar (Bilkent University and Stanford University), Murat Saraçlar (Johns Hopkins University), Mutlu Koca (The University of California at Davis), Ahmet Öncü (Tokyo University), Hamdi Torun (Georgia Institute of Technology), Faik Başkaya (Georgia Institute of Technology), Arda Yalçınkaya (Technical University of Denmark), Mehmet Akar (Ohio State University), Şenol Mutlu (University of Michigan), Ali Emre Pusane (University of Notre Dame), Sema Dumanlı Oktar (University of Bristol), Alpay Özcan (Washington University in Saint Louis)
Roster of Chairpeople since 1971:
• Haldun Gürmen (1971-1975)
• Sabih Tansal (1975-1976 and 1982-1992)
• Necmi Tanyolaç (1976-1982)
• Yorgo Istefanopulos (1992-1998)
• Okyay Kaynak (1998-2000)
• Kadri Özçaldıran (2000-2006)
• Günhan Dündar (2006-2009)
• Bülent Sankur (2009-2012)
• Yasemin P. Kahya (2012-2021)
• Murat Saraçlar (2021- )