Prof. Ayşegül Timur makes history as the first Turkish president of a US university

A professor originally from Istanbul has entered the history books as the first person of Turkish origin to become appointed president, or rector, of an American university.

Professor Ayşegül Timur has been appointed the fifth president of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) following a vote by the university board. As well as being the first Turkish rector in the USA, Timur also makes history as FGCO’s first female rector. She will take up her role in July.

As present, Timur is the university’s Vice President and its Vice Provost for Strategy and Programme Innovation at FGCU, where she oversaw its new micro-authentication and digital badges initiative. She also helped the university to secure a $22.9 million grant through the Economic Development Administration at the US Department of Commerce.

“There are no words to say how honoured I am to lead this great institution,” Timur said in her speech after the vote, which she won by seven votes to six. The appointment has been well received by her university peers.

“I know she is going to be phenomenal, and we are going to remember this day as historic,” said Lisa Johnson, associate Vice President for enrolment management to the university’s magazine FGCU 360 on the day of Timur’s appointment on 4 May. “She is the first female president of Florida Gulf Coast University. We made history today!”

Maria Roca, a founding FGCU faculty member, agrees:

“After 26 years, it’s very exciting for Florida Gulf Coast University to have a woman president, and Aysegul Timur is the perfect choice to fill that role. She is smart. She is thoughtful. She knows FGCU. She knows the region. And on top of all that, she is an incredibly compassionate woman,” Roca said.

Peter Sulick, an FCGO board member, described Timur as an “intelligent, hardworking, determined and has attractive leadership qualities.”

Timur’s appointment is subject to being confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors. She is expected to take office on 1 July.

She has been based in the USA for 25 years, moving there after completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of Istanbul. She received her doctoral degree in Business Administration, majoring in Economics, from the University of South Florida.

Timur’s areas of specialisation include business policy and organisational development, quality and continuous improvement, health (especially pharmaceutical pricing), and international economics.

Her university biography describes her as the “go-to expert for workforce development” and states that she was recently honoured by the Florida College Access Network as one of its first Workforce Education Innovators.

Before joining the FGCU team, Timur held variety of faculty and executive leadership positions in higher education, including full professor of economics.