Bilkent Community Mourns Prof. Berkman's Loss


Professor Ümit Berkman, faculty member in the Faculty of Business Administration, former Vice Rector for Administrative and Financial Affairs, Secretary General of the University for 16 years, founding chair of the Department of Management and Bilkent News Editorial Board member since 1995, passed away Friday, December 23.

A graduate of the Middle East Technical University Faculty of Administrative Sciences (BS, 1969), Prof. Berkman subsequently attended Syracuse University in New York, where he received his master's (1972) and PhD (1975) degrees, both in public administration.

Following his graduation, Prof. Berkman returned to Turkey, where he became assistant professorand then associate professor in METU's Department of Public Administration. Healso served inadministrative positions at METU, including those of vice rector for budget and financial affairs and, from 1984 to 1986, secretary general in charge of administrative affairs.

In 1986, Prof. Berkman was about to take a position outside ofTurkey when the opportunity arose to become a faculty member at a new, private institution of higher learning in Ankara: Bilkent University. He joined Bilkent as the founding chair of the Department of Management, one of the university's first departments, where he initially held the rank of associate professor. He attained the rank of professor in 1988.

In addition, Prof. Berkman served as Bilkent University's vice rector for finance and administration from 1988 until 2004, when he relinquished the post to devote full time to his teaching duties in the Department of Management of the Faculty of Business Administration.

Prof. Berkman's research interests focused on ethics in public and business administration. He was a leading expert in business ethics, producing groundbreaking studies in the area of managerial culture in Turkey. His publications include the early work "Administrative Studies in Turkey: A General Perspective," co-authored with Prof. Metin Heper in 1979; "The Cross-National Reconstruction of Managerial Practices: TQM in Turkey" with Ş. Özen (2007); and his most recent book, "Business Ethics and Ethics Management" (co-authored by Assoc. Prof. Mahmut Arslan of Hacettepe University), published by TÜSİAD (Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association).

From the time of Bilkent's founding to the present, Prof. Berkman's contributions as a teacher, researcher and administrator have been invaluable. He brought vision, wisdom and judgment as well as good sense and organizational skills to his leadership role at the university. As a member of theBilkent News Editorial Board from 1995 to 2011, he was an ever-reliable source of sound advice and wise counsel.

In addition to his professional accomplishments and abilities, his personal qualities made him a beloved mentor, colleague and leader to all those who had the privilege of studying or working with him. His willingness to listen, his ability to motivate, his sense of humor and above all his humanity, warmth and sincerity drew a response from students, staff and fellow academics alike. In his personal life, Prof. Berkman was an avid sports fan and also a movie buff. He was devoted to his family, which includes two children and two grandchildren as well as his wife of 41 years, Tipi Berkman.

A ceremony to commemorate and to pay tribute to Prof. Berkman was held on Monday, December 26, 2011, at the Bilkent Concert Hall. Those who addressed the large gathering included Prof. Erdal Erel, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration; Bilkent University Rector Prof. Abdullah Atalar; Bilkent University Provost Prof. Metin Heper; Prof. Raşit Kaya, Prof. Berkman's friend of 53 years, dating back to their high school days at TED Ankara College; and another close friend, Prof. Hasan Erten, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

All expressed their deep sorrow, and shared their personal recollections of Prof. Berkman. They paid tribute to him as an invaluable administrator who had served Bilkent since its foundation, and as a man of great courtesy and forthrightness who was loved and respected by all, from his students to administrative personnel to his friends. His habit of taking notes for everything, as well as his ability to solve problems, to arrive at moderate decisions during moments of crisis, and to lighten even difficult situations with a touch of humor, were among the memories of Ümit Bey touched on by the speakers. To conclude the ceremony, Prof. Erten read "Ben Ölecek Adam Değilim" by Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı.

For all those who wish to send condolences and express their feelings about Prof. Berkman, the virtual condolences book may be found at: