University of Pittsburgh
April 20, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, April 21 -- University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Provost James Maher conferred an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree on His Excellency Suleyman Demirel, president of the Republic of Turkey, at an academic convocation in Carnegie Music Hall today.

President Demirel has made higher education a top priority in Turkey. He has guided the establishment of more than 25 new universities in his country over the past decade, many of them in provinces that previously had no institutions of higher learning. His government is now making significant investment in the education of Turkish graduate students in the United States and Great Britain so they can return to Turkey to provide academic leadership for Turkey's expanding national university system.

Due to the efforts of President Demirel, a partnership has also been established between the Republic of Turkey and UPMC Health System. In conjunction with that agreement, faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine provide post-graduate education and training to physicians from Ankara Numune Hospital in Ankara, Turkey's capital city.

President Demirel served as prime minister of Turkey prior to assuming his current office. His long political career began in 1965, when he was elected deputy in Parliament from the city of Isparta, a position which he held from 1965 to 1980 and again from 1987 to 1991.

An engineering graduate of Istanbul Technical University, President Demirel studied in the United States in the mid-1950s on an Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship. He was head of Turkey's Dams Department from 1994 to 1995. Later, as prime minister, he invested heavily in infrastructure projects, earning the sobriquet "king of the dams."

Following his visit to Pittsburgh, President Demirel will depart for Washington, DC to attend the NATO 50th anniversary meeting.