One of the main characteristics of Istanbul University is its leadership in higher education for centuries. It has played a guiding and influential role in the social and cultural life of our country. We can clearly see this when we trace the line of historical development of the University.
Istanbul University, as one of the oldest educational institutions, not only of Turkey, but also of the world, was founded when Mehmet the Conqueror conquered Istanbul. Education began to be available in theological schools (“medrese/madrasah” as they were then called), until the end of the 16th century, these schools were instrumental in educating the ruling cadres of the Ottoman society. However, when the “madrasahs” were no longer able to meet the needs of the modern world, a restructuring process began, and as a result, the institutions of higher education called “Dar’ül fünun,” (meaning house of the sciences) the core of Istanbul University, were established. Through the educational reforms, introduced by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the “madrasahs” were abolished in 1924. As a first step in modernization, the Istanbul Dar’ül fünun was established, comprising the departments of medicine, law, literature, theology,and science. The institution was renamed “Istanbul University” in accordance with Ataturk’s University Reform, and higher education was restructured in Turkey to meet the demands of contemporary society. During these early years, Istanbul University welcomedforeign academics who fled Germany as teaching staff.
When the Turkish Republic was founded, Istanbul University was the only institution of higher education. That is the reason why it is the provider of teaching staff for all the universities in Turkey today. Many academics educated here have initiated the establishment of the other higher education institutions. Thus, Istanbul University has always been instrumental in the training and strengthening of our country’s scientific cadres.
In addition to its scientific impact, Istanbul University has also been a leader in the movement towards enlightenment and modernization that began with the Republic by acting as a bridge between science and life. It is aware of its role in the perpetuation of Atatürk’s principles and reforms. Istanbul University will protect in line with this in all issues pertaining to public life with no concessions from its decisive stand. Istanbul University functions as a reflection of Turkey’s history of science and independence. As was the case in its history, Istanbul University is still in the vanguard of scientific success. Our alumni figure in all strata of society and serve their country through the important positions they hold.
Istanbul University was established in 1453. Richard Honig, a German law historian, who claims that Byzantine and Ottoman traditions could be analyzed together, expressed that the history of Istanbul University can be traced back to March, 1st, 1321. The university which was first established in today’s main building, and which was equivalent to Roman universities consisting of schools of medicine, law, philosophy and letters, is considered to be the pioneer of university education is Istanbul.
On the other hand, according to Turkish researchers, the root of Istanbul University dates back to 1453 when Istanbul was conquered by Mehmet II. In fact scientific meetings held on May 30th 1453 – the following day of the conquest, in Zeyrek and Hagia Sofia are assumed to be the birthday of Turkish- Ottoman academic life and it was followed by the foundation of a Külliye.
As a matter of fact, Sıddık Sami Onar states that Turks were not able to find a university to reflect their culture in a city where they wanted to dwell, so they established a brand new one. Cemil Birsel emphasizes that the starting point of Istanbul University including the schools of law, medicine, science and letters was Fatih Külliyesi established in 1470. Soviet medical scientist Danişevski indicates that School of Medicine at Istanbul University is the oldest one in the world.
Istanbul University was restructured in 20.06.1973 accordingly with the legislation on New Universities numbered 1750 on the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. The above mentioned legislation which changed the legislation numbered 4936 completely, gave the duty of providing the newly founded universities and Higher Education Council with certified staff to old and well-established universities. In accordance with that legislation, Istanbul University has been able to provide highly qualified staff for those developing universities to a great extend.
Today Istanbul University is subject to the law numbered 2547 dated on 06.11.1981 and functions as a contemporary, secular and progressive educational establishment and fulfils historical, scientific and social objectives. The serpentine emblem, the symbol of the University of Istanbul, was designed by Prof. Süheyl Ünver, inspired by Seljuk Health Centre reliefs.
Until the beginning of the 19th century various educational systems were implemented under the rule of Ottoman Empire. Then, in 1933, Istanbul University became the first modern university after the University Reform reinforced by M. Kemal Atatürk. Having realized that the Madrasa System which was based on Islamic principles of education would never be able to meet the needs the new society; Atatürk foresaw the necessity to establish a new educational system similar to those already practiced in western societies. Thus, a new law concerning the unification of all education systems ( Tevhid-i Tedrisat) was passed; then all educational institutions based on religious practices were banned. Consequently, all educational issues were made to fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. In 1933 University reform was promulgated.
School of Business Institute of Business Administration
Istanbul University School of Business will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018. Given the honourable title of ‘being the first business school in Turkey,’ we are aware of our distinguished mission—our possession of an invaluable inheritance. We have been following in the footsteps of the pioneers of the business education in Turkey and we are looking forward to celebrating our Golden Jubilee and reaching a well-deserved position before our Diamond Jubilee. We distinguish ourselves as “the oldest, the biggest, the largest business school” not only in Turkey but in the Eurasia and the Middle East.
Prof. Alfred Isaac had helped the higher business education improved in Turkey. He was born as a member of a Jewish family in Koln in Germany in 1888. He was a student of Prof Fritz Schmidt at University of Frankfurt in 1926. In 1927 he started to teach at the University of Nurnberg and in 1928 he had been honoured as full professor at University of Nurnberg teaching economics and social sciences. He was the second Jewish Ordinarius Professor in Germany. In 1934, because of racism, he left the university. In 1937 he migrated to Turkey and became Chair of the Department of Business Economics at the School of Economics that was established in 1936 in the Istanbul University. He taught certain business and economics courses at the university and developed many young university professors. He wrote certain text books as accounting, business, economics, statistics, financial mathematics, etc. And also, he was advisor to the Turkish Government. One can argue that he could be accepted as the great father of business education in Turkey since there had not been any other institution delivering such programs. He left Istanbul University in 1950, and moved back to Germany. In 1952, he was granted as Honorary Professor by the University of Gottingen, and had passed away in 1954 in Nurnberg, Germany.
Prof. Alfred Isaac and Prof. Ahmet Ali Ozeken had led the business education in the Istanbul University till the nineteen fifties. Couple professors had grown up following those.
In 1954, after a long negotiation between Istanbul University and the Ford Foundation and the Harvard Business School, the Institute of Business Economics (currently Graduate Business School, part of School of Business Istanbul University) was established. Ford Foundation had supported financially and the Harvard Business School had supported technically to build the institute to deliver graduate business education. It was three years before the INSEAD was established in 1957. Therefore, we have been proud of our institution that is the first one in the Europe to deliver graduate business education.
There were two directors: The Turkish one and the American one. Young professors were taken to the Boston to be educated, and the American professors were invited to Turkey to teach. It took more than ten years. After reaching sufficient sources to sustain, the assistance was over, and the Institute has sustained, we believe it will be sustainable forever.
The years had passed and four-year university business education had been needed in the business society in the mid of sixties in Turkey. Professors from the Department of Business Economics of the School of Economics at Istanbul University had initiated a separated business school at Istanbul University. It was a challenge for those, but ultimately, they had reached their target. The School of Business was established a long discussion and negotiation period in 1968. Both undergraduate and doctorate programs were launched immediately. The purpose of the PhD program was to develop business educators in different disciplines business related. Till 1982 when the Higher Education was reformed, 88 golden man and women who have been contributing to the business education not only in Turkey but outside of the country.
Since then, we have been engaging, innovating, and impacting. So, we have been sustainable. We as a society of Istanbul University School of Business have identified ourselves as following:
  • We have been under the higher education governance that all higher education institutions have been regulated and controlled centrally by the Higher Education Council of Turkey established in 1982.
  • We have been under the Istanbul University governance that we are not an independent higher education institution. The University Governance has had authority to allocate resources of fiscal, human, other resources needed.
  • We have been the school governance that has been realized voluntarily. There is no search process for the deans or directors for the state higher education institutions in Turkey.
  • We have been the faculty about 100 people including postdocs. Each of us holds PhD that the law requires.
  • We have been the staff about 70 people that none of us can speak any foreign language even we have had English versions of our graduate and undergraduate programs.
  • We have been students about 3,000 of undergraduate, more 1,000 MBAs, about 100 PhDs, about 400 MScs. We have been proud of being students of Istanbul University School of Business.
  • We have been alumni of Istanbul University School of Business. We have always been connected to our school that we have been proud of.
  • We have been employers and other stake holders from different industry of Turkey that we have preferred to hire the graduates of Istanbul University School of Business.
  • We as a society of Istanbul University School of Business have been engaging for the years: We have been educating, delivering the diploma or certificate programs at different levels. We have been researching in order to create knowledge. We have been transferring the knowledge created outside of our school to our society. We have been trying to put the knowledge either created or transferred to the practice where the society has needed. We have been organizing events not only scientific ones but the others when our society needs.
  • We as a society of Istanbul University School of Business have been innovating for the years. Business education was started in 1936 in Istanbul University. Since then it has been evolved. As the School of Business, we will be celebrating our golden jubilee in 2018. Without innovation, there will be no sustainability.
  • We as a society of Istanbul University School of Business have been impacting for the years. The outcomes of our research activities, the proceedings of our eventual activities, the outputs of our education activities have been impacting to the society where we live. Our intellectual contributions have been published to tier journals, our alumni have taken top positions in trading, service, production, and manufacturing industries both in Turkey and abroad. Also they have been leading the business education in Turkey and its surroundings. Within the cabinets, parliaments, ministries, and other public and governmental agencies, our alumni have been serving very effectively and efficiently.
  • Our School’s history is nearly the history of the Turkish business education itself and this precious heritage constitutes a strong foundation for our culture. Our School has various key assets that are essential for success. These resources are the ultimate tools to reach our vision and to accomplish strategic goals connected to this vision. We have the largest and one of the most talented teaching faculty in Turkey giving us the opportunity to train future faculty members for many other institutions and conduct research in various fields.