Boğaziçi graduates come together at BURCIN
Boğaziçi graduates come together at BURCIN
Boğaziçi University Alumni Association and Robert College International Alumni Association collaborated to establish a new platform, BURCIN, to bring together BU graduates residing in the United States. BURCIN’s mission is to support BU in sustaining its standing as a world-renowned academic and research institution.
BURCIN aims to support academic and cultural collaboration between Boğaziçi University and other international academic institutions, and seeks to enhance the ties among the alumni as well as their relations with their alma mater.
We talked with Professor Deniz Özenbaş about the establishment and objectives of BURCIN. Özenbaş, an academician and researcher, is Professor of Finance at Monclair State University in Jew Jersey and also the Director of BURCIN’s Board of Directors.
Let’s start with getting to know you and your Boğaziçi story.
I am a graduate of BU Department of Management. The education I received at Boğaziçi University, my social activities, the friendships I forged in this institution, and the broad vision I thus gained have been invaluable. The contribution of my esteemed teachers Eser Borak and Muzaffer Bodur to my starting an academic career has been significant. I still remember the day they asked me to come in for a talk and told me, “There is a scholarship available at Baruch College, City University of New York. We want you to apply for it.” I received that scholarship and went to New York to pursue my graduate studies; and I received my Phd in Finance. I am currently Professor of Finance at Montclair University in New Jersey and the director of Schwartz Center for Trading and Financial Research at Baruch College of the City University of New York. I have also taught at Boğaziçi University Summer School for two summers, which enabled me to meet the students of BU.
How did the idea of BURCIN come about, or what was the need that prompted the establishment of this platform? Can you tell us about the structure and operation of BURCIN?
Events organized by BU alumni living in the US began in the 1990s. In 2001, a group of alumni founded Boğaziçi University - Robert College International Alumni Association Inc. (BURCIN). The Association was granted IRC 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service. IRC 501(c)(3) status requires the Association to be operated autonomously, and its revenues to be spent in accordance with its mission. Donations made to the Association are tax deductible. In 2009, a new Board of Directors was elected to reinvigorate the Association; various events followed, including alumni networking events, a new website, scholarships, and various fund raising campaigns.
You can access our website for the mission statement of BURCIN at: https://burcinalumni.org/siter/index.php/about/mission/.
The Board of Directors comprises one Director, two Assistant Directors, a treasurer, a secretary and three members. Currently I am the Director of the Board. We also have local leaders in many cities and states in the US. Through the years we have established relations with our former presidents Prof. Kadri Özçaldıran and Prof. Gülay Barbarosoğlu, and our current president Prof. Mehmed Özkan as well as BÜVAK and BUMED officials. We would like to sustain these relations.
Most of the BU graduates who went abroad to pursue their careers are in the US. Could you give us the number of our graduates living in the US?
We don’t have the exact figures of BU alumni in the US but we do have contact information of about 500 alumni living in various part of the country. We estimate the real number to be much above this figure. In the context of the fundraising campaign held in 2018 to support Albert Long Hall Classical Music Concerts, Prof. Hüseyin Abut, our Assistant Director, contacted about 400 BU and Robert College graduates with the assistance of BU Alumni Office. Our alumni live predominantly in New York and vicinity.
Are you planning any networking activities for the alumni? What sort of events are planned in this context?
Our Board of Directors has recruited local leaders in various cities and states. New York is the most active in terms of networking events organized for the alumni, followed by Boston, Houston and Charlotte. I am the local leader for New York. Those of us who live in New York get together three or four times a year – we meet after work, or we organize lunch or breakfast meetings. We have also invited some of our alumni to speak at various meetings. We have had the opportunity to get together with our former presidents Prof. Gülay Barbarosoğlu and Prof. Kadri Özçaldıran and our current president Prof. Mehmed Özkan at various meetings in New York. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, and his wife Ayşe Sinirlioğlu are both Boğaziçi University graduates. They brought the alumni together on two occasions in 2018.
Do you have any kind of infrastructure to provide financial assistance to BURCIN? How do you finance the activities?
Members of the BURCIN Board of Directors work on voluntary basis. In recent years we collaborated with BÜVAK and collected a considerable amount of donations for the restoration of Hamlin Hall and for the scholarship pool. These funds were transferred to BUVAK. Following the establishment of Turkish Philantropic Foundation (TPF) by Haldun Taşman, a BU alumnus, BUVAK started collaborating with TPF in some of the major fundraising drives. The modest contributions made by our alumni go to meeting the expenses for our web page, etc. Whatever remains from these donations and the contributions made for special projects are channeled to BUVAK. For instance, the donations we received in 2018 for Albert Long Hall concerts were transferred to BUVAK through BURCIN and TPF.
Will there be activities specially for new graduates who come to the US for an academic career, or young researchers? Is support efforts or mentoring in the plans?
In 2019, setting up a mentoring network among the Boğaziçi community in the US has the highest priority. We are in the process of setting up a platform where our alumni who have been living in the US for a long time can assist the young alumni who have come to pursue a graduate education or to work. Through this network, Boğaziçi alumni in a variety of professions will be able to exchange information among themselves and provide information about job opportunities or scholarships. We are in the process of updating our webpage in line with these changes.
There are several platforms that bring the alumni together; BUMED is one of them. What are your expectations regarding BURCIN’S relations with those platforms?
In recent years we have worked closely with BUMED in several joint projects. It was decided that BURCIN members will be able to use BUMED facilities when they are in Istanbul. We are looking forward to further joint activities with BUMED.
How can the alumni reach you?
They can visit our website or LinkedIn page:
Interview: Özgür Duygu Durgun / Office of Corporate Communications