Image Salih Memecan

Sakıp Sabancı's own words

The Sabanci Group had a unique dream. We would hear stories about families who would like their children to get good education at world universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and MIT but were facing difficulties such as transferring foreign money. We always wanted to found a university like these world universities. At the time, the vast land between Izzet Baysal Retirement Home and Maslak Mansion was spare. Taksim – 4. Levent subway line was in the planning stage and we were going to cover the expenses of construction of this line between Taksim and Sabanci University Maslak Campus. It was dependent upon the allocation of the land to our foundation with the condition that a university would be built within a certain amount of time. Prof. Dr. Ihsan Dogramaci, the President of the Foundation of Higher Education at the time, supported the project. I visited Bilkent University Campus in Ankara with Prof. Dr. Gungor Uras. Inspired by the buildings in this campus, we had project drafts prepared. General Kenan Evren, the President of the Republic at the time and my executive assistant Ali Haydar Tasli who had once been a sergeant of General Kenan Evren, arranged a meeting with the President. We explained to Kenan Evren in full detail the project including the subway construction. Kenan Evren said he liked the project but he insisted that if we were to found a university we should do it somewhere in Anatolia, not in Istanbul. I told him about our goal to have international scholars at the university and the fact that the life style of these scholars and their families wouldn`t be compatible with the living standards in Anatolia. For example, those people were used to playing golf or tennis and offering classes at schools that were an hour away from an airport. Furthermore, the cultural and social needs of students couldn’t be met in Anatolia. However, my efforts were not enough to convince Kenan Evren who said, “Reconsider Anatolia”. Today some parts of that area are covered with slums while the other parts have been sold to construction companies and filled with buildings. Later, we were left without any other choice but to found the university 60 km away from the city. Sabanci University, which we dreamed of establishing in 1985, could start functioning only in 1999. If our Maslak Campus idea could have been actualized, our students and professors would have been able to make better use of Istanbul’s social life.