An expedition to Turkey by a Dayton-area delegation that included Wright State University produced Memoranda of Understandings with several Turkish universities. These will result in student/faculty exchanges and important research partnerships.
The group announced the agreements during a news conference July 6 at the Ahiska Turkish American Community Center in Dayton.
The delegation’s mission was to forge relationships with the Turkish governmental offices, educational institutions and cultural organizations. The group included Stephen Foster, Wright State’s Associate Vice President for International Affairs.
Both Wright State and the University of Dayton signed the MOUs with Marmara University, a major public university; and AREL University, a private university. Both are in Istanbul.
“We hope we’ll see some Turkish students, both undergraduates and graduate students, for our programs,” said Foster. “We’re particularly interested in Turkey as a destination point for our students. We’re talking about a part of the world that greatly influenced the course of Western civilization. So we’re enthusiastic about the possibilities.”
Wright State has been building its relationship with Turkey. In recent months, the university has signed several similar agreements with universities in Turkey.
Foster said Turkish students are very interested in studying at U.S. universities.
“They have very good students,” he said. “They’ll bring their skills, their talents, their perspectives to our region.”
The delegation included Foster; Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell; University of Dayton Provost Joseph Saliba; Anthony Whitmore, director of government and community relations at the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority; and others.
During the week-long trip, members of the group met with the deputy prime minister of Turkey, the vice minister of foreign affairs, the governor of Bursa Province, the mayor of Ankara, chambers of commerce and directors of several universities. Their trip was featured on national Turkish television.
Turkey has a fast-growing economy, and the Ahiska Turkish population in Dayton has grown from about 150 families two-and-a-half years ago to about 400 today.
“It only makes sense to encourage business relationships with their mother country since we already have a work force that speaks the native language, making the transition for any Turkish business that much easier,” Leitzell said.
Istanbul, Ankara and Bursa have a business profile similar to that of Dayton, including manufacturing, aerospace and medical.
Leitzell urged Dayton-area municipalities and others to consider establishing an economic-development fund that could be used to host delegations from Turkey and other countries.
“In the Middle East particularly, face-to-face relationships are really critical,” Foster said. “You meet people. You establish trust. So they need to come here. We need to continue to go there. This is what will really help us develop these relationships.”