Nihat M. Bilgutay (March 31, 1952 - July 1, 2008)
Nihat M. Bilgutay was born on 31 March 1952 in Turkey. He received his academic training at Bradley University (BSEE 1973) and Purdue University (MSEE 1975, PhD 1981). His thesis advisor at Purdue was Vernon L. Newhouse. Between his graduation from Purdue and his appointment as ECE Department Head at Drexel Dr. Bilgutay focused on studying ultrasonic nondestructive testing and imaging, and digital signal processing. He developed an international reputation in the field of ultrasonics, especially Split Spectrum techniques, and was well known for his contributions to engineering education. An IEEE Fellow and a recipient of an IEEE Third Millennium Medal, Dr. Bilgutay was advisor to seven doctoral and post doctoral students, and to fifteen students who received the Master of Science degree under his guidance.
Dr. Bilgutay came to Drexel in 1982 as a Drexel Fellow, and was made Full Professor in 1992. He served Drexel as the Vernon L. Newhouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research (1990-1995), leader of the Gateway Engineering Education Coalition, and, most notably, ECE Department Head (1995-2006). During his tenure as Department Head, the ECE Department saw an unprecedented growth in external funding for research, and significant and successful hiring of many young faculty members. Under his leadership, the Department had also made the important transition from Commonwealth Hall to its current home in the Edmund D. Bossone Research Enterprise Center.
Among his colleagues and friends, Dr. Bilgutay was known as a sharp and purposeful person, energetic, perceptive, and passionate. He was able to bring together individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, and to foster harmony and cooperation. He was methodical and stable, persistent and focused. His dedication to Drexel University and to the Department was legendary -- students, members of the staff and the faculty found him extraordinarily responsive to their needs. He would go to any length to advance the department's cause and to improve its operations, physical plant, reputation and reach. He was a permanent feature in the ECE office -- during and after normal working hours and on numerous evenings and weekends.
During the last two years, as debilitating illness has progressively limited his faculties, Dr. Bilgutay has waged the most courageous and forceful effort to continue to work, and to be as productive and participatory in Drexel affairs as was humanly possible. This heroic, tragic and awe-inspiring struggle has now come to an end.
Our deep condolences go to Dr. Bilgutay's wife Kathy and his three children Canan Ayse, Aylin Nur, and Deniz O. Bilgutay. We hope that in time they will be able to recover from this great loss. Some solace can perhaps be found in the remarkable impact of Dr. Bilgutay's long term activities. The fruits of his good deeds will continue to improve our lives and the lives of many others who were fortunate enough to know him and to benefit from his vision, labor and unbounded dedication.
Turkish American Community Responds to Presidential CandidatesBy Turkish Coalition of America
By all accounts, the 2008 presidential election is about "change." Yet, the ongoing Armenian dispute with Turkey is being politicized to the point of becoming an issue in the U.S. election campaign. In recent weeks some campaigns have issued statements in support of a 2007 congressional resolution that sought to characterize tragic events during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Far from the desired change that Americans are calling for, this sadly appears to reflect old-style politics as usual.
Indeed, for several decades, some outspoken Armenian Americans have continued to politicize the events of 1915 rather than seeking the truth about them. In the context of the current election, it appears the rhetoric may be no different. But this process gets us no closer to the truth. In fact, it fans the flames of division and strays ever farther from what this election purports to be about: Change.
As Turkish Americans, we are getting involved, watching the debates, volunteering and voting in this election process. We believe there are solid ideas that might make real change not only possible, but actually help to promote our commitment to reconciliation with Armenia, our fellow Americans of Armenian descent, as well the shared desire of all Americans for peace and prosperity in the Middle East and the world at large.
Change should of course be heralded by constructive solutions. Turkey opened the Ottoman archives for academic research many years ago. Armenian archives that remain closed, including those in the United States, should be opened for examination by scholars. This would foster change by creating an impartial forum, free from the influences of domestic electoral politics to establish a more comprehensive narrative of the events of 1915. It is critical that this matter be handled by objective experts in the proper forum; it is our firm belief that historians should write history, not politicians.
As the tragic events of the past become almost 100 years old, the new generation emerging in both Turkey and Armenia should have dialogue broader than a fight over a single word. They should be able to reconcile their differences respectfully and grow to appreciate their common bonds.
Turks today mourn the loss of innocent life on both sides during World War I and would like to rekindle the bonds of brotherhood that existed between Turks and Armenians for centuries.
However reconciliation cannot flourish in the absence of dialogue and a willingness to search for the whole truth. For example, over five million Ottoman Muslims were victims of ethnic cleansing, massacres, and the ravages of war as they were purged from lands ranging from the Balkans, the Crimea to the Caucusus in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. These victims, including those who fell to Armenian rebels during the Armenian revolt (1885-1920) and these crimes also deserve a page in history and our human conscience.
The reconciliation of Turks and Armenians may need the helping hand of leaders who care about both the people of Turkey and Armenia, and herein lies the chance for real change. For the United States, this chance would mean to reconcile the issues raised by domestic constituencies, while also promoting and strengthening its partnership with strategic allies such as Turkey.
It is this kind of leader who promotes reconciliation among peoples, peace among communities and among nations who brings about change.
America deserves that kind of leader.
Signed by (as of February 22, 2008)
American Association of Crimean Turks Inc.
American Turkish Association of Houston
American Turkish Association of Indiana
American Turkish Association of Washington, DC
Anadolu Club Inc., New York
Assembly of Turkish American Associations
Azerbaijan Society of America
Delaware Valley Muslim Association and Selimiye Mosque
Federation of Turkish American Associations
Florida Turkish American Association
Istanbul University Alumni Association of USA
Karacay Turks Mosque and Cultural Association, New Jersey
Pittsburgh Turkish American Association
Society of Turkish American Architects, Engineers and Scientists Inc.
TC-USA Political Action Committee
Turkish American Muslim Culture Association, Pennsylvania
Turkish American Alliance for Fairness
Turkish American Association of California
Turkish American Association of Greater Kansas City
Turkish American Association of Louisiana
Turkish American Association of Milwaukee
Turkish American Association of San Antonio
Turkish American Association Southern California
Turkish American Cultural Alliance of Chicago
Turkish American Cultural Association of Florida
Turkish American Cultural Association of Georgia
Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan
Turkish American Cultural Society of New England
Turkish American Cultural Association of Southern New England
Turkish American Cultural Society of Colorado
Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington
Turkish American Eyup Sultan Mosque and Islamic Center, New York
Turkish American Friendship Society of the United States
Turkish American Heritage Political Action Committee
Turkish American Society of Augusta and Aiken
Turkish American Society of Northeastern Ohio
Turkish Children Foster Care
Turkish Coalition of America
Turkish Cypriot Cultural and Educational Association
Turkish Society of Rochester
Turkish Women's League of America
U.S. Azeris Network, Washington, DC
Istanbul is the Europe Capital of Culture 2010!
Istanbul has been designated as the Europe Capital of Culture for 2010 by the Council of European Union.
The official Istanbul 2010 website
Bridge to Turkiye Fund requires your help to win $50,000By Emin Pamucak
In the spirit of the holiday giving season, The Case Foundation is partnering with Parade magazine, Network for Good, Global Giving, Causes on Facebook and nonprofit partners, like Bridge to Turkiye Fund to launch America's Giving Challenge on Parade.com and the Causes Giving Challenge on Facebook.
Here's how it works: use the same communication tools you use every day, like; email, blogs, webpages, social networks, charity badges to mobilize your friends, supporters or anyone who shares your passion to help you generate support for our organization. You could even help us get $50,000. More than 150 grants will be awarded to charities participating in the Challenge.
The objective of the Challenge is simple: to get the greatest number of donations between December 14 and January 31.
Are you up for the Challenge?
Here are the two Facebook Causes we are Supporting. You can HELP BOTH Causes with as little as $10 donation for each.
Should governments and universities compete to attract qualified students, regardless of nationality or residence?By Ertan Ergezen
Featured in The Economist's Debate Series on Education on December 19, 2007
In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson said, "I not only use all the brains I have but all that I can borrow." This simple sentence should be the path that universities and governments follow to compete for the best students, regardless of nationality or residence.
Universities are becoming more comprehensive, collaborative, research-focused and competitive. International graduate students play a big role in this competition. According to a brief released by the American Council of Education in 2006, international graduate students constitute nearly half of total graduate students in science and engineering fields in the U.S. As a researcher from Turkey pursuing my PhD at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, I see that most of the research positions are occupied by international students who are working on projects funded by U.S. Governmental Institutions such as National Science Foundation (NSF).
Economic dimension of this issue should not be ignored. According to a study by the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), the net economic contribution of international students to U.S. economy was around $14.5 billion in 2006-2007. The state of Pennsylvania received $660 million and the University of Pennsylvania, one of the biggest universities in the state, got around $120 million. Therefore this inevitable fact will force the universities to accept a considerable number of international students in the near future too.
Increasing global competence also impacts university admission policies. According to UNESCO, the U.S had the weakest growth in international student enrollment from 1999 to 2004. Universities in United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, and Japan are pursuing well-coordinated campaigns with the support from their governments. They use effective marketing strategies and accelerated visa policies which influence the decisions of international students.
Change in the global marketplace is rapid and the competition among companies and countries is becoming tougher. This evolvement puts pressure on developed countries such as the U.S. to maintain its technological advancement over the rest of the world. For instance, after 9/11, the U.S. government decreased H1-B visa quotas for skilled workers to 65,000. But now, companies such as Google and Microsoft are pressuring the U.S. Government to lift the cap on H1-B visas. It seems like they are looking out for their own business interests. But who can blame them?
The central governments will continue to act on this issue depending on a country's political, economical and social conditions. For instance, the European Commission (EC) proposed the "blue card" to lure highly skilled labor to Europe. As Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EC said, this would boost Europe's competitiveness in the global economy and help retain top companies. The EC made this decision based on current socio-economical conditions of Europe. Similarly, the U.S government issued stricter immigration laws and visa regulations after 9/11. They based this decision on the national security concerns. I believe, eventually, the U.S. Government will loosen its restrictions on immigration laws in the near future.
As Winston Churchill said in 1943, the empires of the future will be empires of the mind. Therefore the universities, companies and governments will be battling to attract and keep the best minds.
Armenian story has another sideBy Norman Stone, a historian and the author of "World War I: A Short History"
Published in Chicago Tribune on October 16, 2007
All the world knows what the end of an empire looks like: hundreds of thousands of people fleeing down dusty paths, taking what was left of their possessions; crammed refugee trains puffing their way across arid plains; and many, many people dying. For the Ottoman Empire that process began in the Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus as Russia and her satellites expanded. Seven million people -- we would now call them Turks -- had to settle in Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey.
In 1914, when World War I began in earnest, Armenians living in what is now Turkey attempted to set up a national state. Armenians revolted against the Ottoman government, began what we would now call "ethnic cleansing" of the local Turks. Their effort failed and caused the government to deport most Armenians from the area of the revolt for security reasons. Their sufferings en route are well-known.
Today, Armenian interests in America and abroad are well-organized. What keeps them united is the collective memory of their historic grievance. What happened was not in any way their fault, they believe. If the drive to carve out an ethnically pure Armenian state was a failure, they reason, it was only because the Turks exterminated them.
For years, Armenians have urged the U.S. Congress to recognize their fate as genocide. Many U.S. leaders -- including former secretaries of state and defense and current high-ranking Bush administration officials -- have urged Congress either not to consider or to vote down the current genocide resolution primarily for strategic purposes: Turkey is a critical ally to the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan and adoption of such a resolution would anger and offend the Turkish population and jeopardize U.S.-Turkish relations.
Given this strong opposition, why would Congress, upon the advice of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, make itself arbiter of this controversy? What makes the Armenians' dreadful fate so much worse than the dreadful fates that come with every end of empire? It is here that historians must come in.
First, allegedly critical evidence of the crime consists of forgeries. The British were in occupation of Istanbul for four years after the war and examined all of the files of the Ottoman government. They found nothing, and therefore could not try the 100-odd supposed Turkish war criminals that they were holding. Then, documents turned up, allegedly telegrams from the interior ministry to the effect that all Armenians should be wiped out. The signatures turned out to be wrong, there were no back-up copies in the archives and the dating system was misunderstood.
There are many other arguments against a supposed genocide of the Armenians. Their leader was offered a post in the Turkish Cabinet in 1914, and turned it down. When the deportations were under way, the populations of the big cities were exempted -- Istanbul, Izmir, Aleppo, where there were huge concentrations of Armenians. There were indeed well-documented and horrible massacres of the deportee columns, and the Turks themselves tried more than 1,300 men for these crimes in 1916, convicted many and executed several. None of this squares with genocide, as we classically understand it. Finally, it is just not true that historians as a whole support the genocide thesis. The people who know the background and the language (Ottoman Turkish is terribly difficult) are divided, and those who do not accept the genocide thesis are weightier. The Armenian lobby contends that these independent and highly esteemed historians are simply "Ottomanists" -- a ridiculously arrogant dismissal.
Unfortunately, the issue has never reached a properly constituted court. If the Armenians were convinced of their own case, they would have taken it to one. Instead, they lobby bewildered or bored parliamentary assemblies to "recognize the genocide."
Congress should not take a position, one way or the other, on this affair. Let historians decide. The Turkish government has been saying this for years. It is the Armenians who refuse to take part in a joint historical review, even when organized by impeccably neutral academics. This review is the logical and most sensible path forward. Passage of the resolution by the full House of Representatives would constitute an act of legislative vengeance and would shame well-meaning scholars who want to explore this history from any vantage point other than the one foisted upon the world by ultranationalist Armenians.
Keynote Speech at the 2006 Republic Day Celebrations of TAFSUS
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Turkish American Friendship Society of the U.S. it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the celebration of the 83rd anniversary of the Turkish Republic Day ? Cumhuriyet Bayrami. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend tonight?s celebration because of a conference I am attending in Florida. However, I am with you in spirit and wish you an enjoyable evening.
The struggle of the Turkish nation to maintain its independence following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I was a momentous historical event of epic proportions. By the end of WW-I, the Ottoman empire had dwindled from being one of the largest and greatest empires in history spanning three continents to merely the Anatolian peninsula, which was mostly occupied by the allies except for central and eastern parts. The Ottoman government was helpless in Istanbul under the occupation of the British and the allies with its army disbanded. The Turkish nation was at the brink of extinction as an independent entity after being a dominant world power in three continents for 6 centuries.
It was under these dire conditions that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk went to Samsun under the guise to inspect the forces in eastern Turkey. He had a much grander vision to start the struggle to regain the Turkish homeland in Anatolia and establish a modern republic from the ashes of the Ottoman empire. The struggle started on May 19, 1919 as Ataturk stepped off the ship named Bandirma in Samsun. He assembled regional representatives and delegates from across Anatolia to plan the national struggle to liberate the occupied territories. The grand national assembly met for the first time in Ankara on April 23, 1920. He quickly organized the remaining military forces in the unoccupied parts of Anatolia along with the militia and took command to launch Turkey's War of Independence. This was no easy feat. The resources and morale of the Turkish nation were completely depleted following the defeat in WW-I, with all resources gone, millions of soldiers and civilians dead, majority of the Turkish homeland under occupation. It was under these circumstances that Ataturk initiated the struggle to rid Anatolia of the enemies. Many Turkish intellectuals at the time felt that a national struggle would risk whatever was left remaining for the Turks and the best hope would be to seek the protectorate of the British or the U.S. Ataturk would not settle for that and quickly organized the army and the resistance fighters and formed a provisional government in Ankara to start the struggle to liberate the occupied territories in Anatolia.
The key objective was to stop and push back the Greek forces, which had now advanced to central Anatolia not too far from Ankara. After a number of smaller victories, on August 30, 1922 the Turkish forces defeated the Greek army in a decisive battle and captured their general, which turned into a major route that ended with the Greek army being pushed to the sea at Izmir. Subsequently, other occupiers were defeated or abandoned Anatolia with the allies finally exiting from Istanbul and eastern Trace under the terms of the cease-fire.
The grand vision of Ataturk to create a modern, democratic republic based on the power of the people to elect its leaders was now possible to realize. The Turkish Republic was officially declared on October 29, 1923. The bravery of the Turkish nation and the genius of Ataturk as a brilliant military commander and a great national leader had led to the rebirth of the Turkish nation. The Turks were fortunate to have one of the greatest leaders in history at the darkest moments of our history. Combined with the incredible will of the Turks to fight for their independence, which they had never lost throughout their long history, resulted in the establishment of a modern and secular democratic nation that is still seen as an example for other nations.
Turkey continues to be the biggest secular, democratic Moslem country in the world today thanks to Ataturk's forward thinking in separating the state and religion and establishing a truly secular Republic. Thanks to Ataturk?s great vision and wisdom, democratic secular government endures in Turkey in a region of the world where this is a rarity.
Thank you for participating in the celebrations for the 83rd anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Cumhuriyet Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun!
Enjoy the rest of the evening. Thank you.
Department Head, ECE - Drexel University