U.S.-based Institute of Turkish Studies announces closure, citing financial concerns

The Institute of Turkish Studies (ITS) in the District of Columbia, the only non-profit, private educational foundation in the United States dedicated to the support and development of Turkish Studies in United States higher education, has announced it is closing and ceasing operations as of September 30, 2020.

The board of directors cited lack of success in efforts to develop a sustainable financial future of the institute following the 2015 termination of Turkish government-initiated trust that supported ITS grant-giving and other activities as the reason for the decision.

“The decision to shut down was taken by the Board of ITS because the money is running out,’’ Steven A. Cook, the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), told Ahval, noting that the decision was not made by Georgetown University, which hosts the institution.

“For many years, ITS was funded by the interest on a bond in a Turkish bank. The Turkish government decided to end that relationship. Since that time, the Board has struggled mightily to raise funds and keep the Institute afloat.  There were some generous donors out there, but it was not enough,’’ he added.

ITS Executive Director Dr. Sinan Ciddi called the news “sad’’ on Twitter.

“This is a huge loss for Turkey, Turkish and Ottoman Studies,’’ wrote Evren Celik Wiltse, associate Professor of political science at South Dakota State University.

“In South Dakota, ITS used to sponsor cultural trips for K12 teachers to Turkey. I’ve met many teachers who were advocates of all things Turkish. Too bad current Turkish government has no respect for independent civil org,’’ Wiltse commented.

Established in 1983, the ITS boasts the provision of grants that pushed Turkey and Turkish studies into colleges and universities in 45 different states The institution has awarded several dozen developing scholars over the last five years while nearly 80 U.S institutions established library/research collections relating to Turkey with ITS funding.