President William Bynum met with Turkish university officials in an effort to establish relationships with Turkish universities and raise awareness of MVSU and its opportunities in the region.
“My purpose was to take a look at the educational system there, to have opportunities to converse with some presidents, and of course to form some MOUs for faculty and student exchanges,” said Dr. Bynum.
While in Turkey, Dr. Bynum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dr. Recep iLERi, Rector of Bursa Orhangazi University in Turkey. He hopes to form additional MOU agreements with other Turkish universities on a later visit to the Middle Eastern country.
President Bynum traveled to Turkey as part of a group of educators and elected officials brought together by the Raindrop Foundation. The Raindrop Foundation is affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is a movement that brings together Muslims, Christians, and Jews in order to establish better relationships through dialogue. The goal, Dr. Bynum explained, is to eradicate ignorance by bringing people together to interact with different folks so that they can see that they share far more in common than they previously imagined due to their difference of religion.
Dr. Bynum also emphasized the importance of raising awareness of Valley outside of the United States. “One of the fastest growing segments of the new student population is international students,” Dr. Bynum stated. Not only do international students have a sincere desire to study in the U.S., he explained, but oftentimes they are also well prepared and do a great job educationally, adding to the academic nature of the campus.
He also added that international students bring cultural advantages to campus. They allow native students to learn more about other countries and cultures without necessarily having to go abroad, and American students benefit them as well because they help the international students realize that the U.S. isn’t typically as dangerous as your average Hollywood action film.
One aspect of the Turkish university system that Dr. Bynum was particularly impressed with was the country’s foundation universities. Similar to our private colleges, these universities are overseen by boards of trustees composed of regional leaders of industry and business, each of whom contributes significantly to the university they oversee with other trustee members. “They may have 20 board members, and you’re talking about each of those board members donating a building,” Dr. Bynum said.
By forming partnerships with educational leaders in their region, business leaders play a more active role in student success. President Bynum hopes MVSU can form more of these types of relationships with the private sector. “We’ve got to do as much as we can to partner with businesses and industry,” he said. “It can be a win-win situation where they are helping to support students who want an education, and by the same token we’re designing curricula and producing students who can ultimately contribute to the success of those organizations.”