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Turkish Universities Offer Promising Partnerships

UMass Lowell Faculty Delegation Visits Istanbul, Ankara

Deirdra Murphy visited programs for disabled children while in Turkey.

By Sandra Seitz

Interest was intense as a delegation of UMass Lowell faculty and administrators met with their counterparts at universities in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, to discuss partnership opportunities.

The group visited with faculty and administrators from six universities in Turkey. Three were chosen because of prior faculty collaborations: the universities of Yeditepe, Sabanci and Bahcesehir. The others are well known, top-tier universities with many established exchange and research projects, including the Middle Eastern Technical University and Bilkent University. The University of Hacettepe was chosen for its strong program in the health sciences, with associated hospital, as well as programs in engineering and arts.

The UMass Lowell participants broke into small working groups to discuss potential collaborations and partnerships, exchanges and research opportunities.

Prof. Craig Armiento, chair, and Assoc. Prof. Alkim Akyurtlu, both of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, conferred on the planning of an Assistive Technology workshop to be held in Turkey in June. This working group will seek funding from the National Science Foundation to support the initiative.

Asst. Prof. Deirdra Murphy of the Physical Therapy Department investigated the Turkish approach to rehabilitation and assistive technology for people with disabilities. She says, “I wanted to understand the cultural context of disability in Turkish society, the professional training options, the payment and healthcare systems, the educational opportunities for children and the potential for research collaborations.”

Prof. Jehanne-Marie Gavarini of the Art Department explored possibilities for joint programs in art and cultural studies, as well as student exchange and study-abroad options.

Kathryn Carter, dean of the College of Management, led discussions about possible collaborations with UMass Lowell’s engineering management and entrepreneurship programs, as well as accreditation issues.

John Ting, dean of the College of Engineering, worked on two-way international student exchanges and experiences, three-plus-two bachelor to master’s programs and faculty exchanges.

“Regardless of any other interactions that may occur in future,” says Ting, “we are hopeful that we will receive applications from these universities for top graduate students at the doctoral level to strengthen our graduate research mission.”

Five students from Turkey are currently graduate students in engineering programs and were featured in UMass Lowell presentations. A sixth, Berke Gur, completed his doctorate and is now an assistant professor at Bahcesehir University. While at UMass Lowell, Gur was a University Graduate Research Fellow and won the Dean’s Medal -- presented to him personally during this trip.

The delegation included, from left, Craig Armiento, Deirdra Murphy, Alkim Akyurtlu, Kathryn Carter, Jehanne-Marie Gavarini and John Ting.