News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz,Turkish higher education dual-degree program continues to grow

Students from the SUNY-Yök Dual Diploma Program at a welcome ceremony held at the college on May 30, 2006. Photo submitted.

Since 2004, a number of international students have divided their college experience between New Paltz and their home universities in Turkey, as part of a program set up between the State University of New York and the Turkish Higher Education Council (Yök).

This May, six students from Turkey attended the college’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony as a culmination of their dual-degree program. Within three years, 250 Turkish students will be attending New Paltz.

The idea for the program originated at a 2000 Yök conference, “Education in the New Millennium.” Administrators from Turkey invited educators from such countries as the United States and England to discuss educational practices. A number of key players from SUNY – including David Lavallee, provost at New Paltz – attended the conference and discussions about a joint program began. It was designed as a method for allowing more Turkish students to attend college.

New Paltz was one of two SUNY schools taking on the program – the other was Binghamton University. Today, there are 1,000 students attending seven colleges in the SUNY system, of which New Paltz has 125. Lavallee and New Paltz campus coordinator Kathleen Bauman Geher would like to see New Paltz students attend classes at universities in Turkey.

Geher said that many universities in Turkey teach in English, so that the transition for students is not too difficult. They are also modeled after American universities and many educational administrators were educated in the United States.

At New Paltz, students can participate in the following programs: business and economics in partnership with Istanbul Technical University; business with Izmir University of Economics; or liberal studies teaching English as a second language with Middle Eastern Technical University.

According to Geher, the program is popular with 10 applicants for each of the 30 spots available in the program.

“The students add another flavor of diversity to our program,” said Hadi Salavitabar, dean of the School of Business.

Students study in both countries and graduate with two diplomas in three years. They develop their English skills, both in the Turkish classroom and a native English-speaking environment. Students attend classes year round, with fall and spring semesters spent at a Turkish institution and summer semesters at a SUNY institution. At the end of three years, the students receive two diplomas – one from each college.

“I recommend it for all,” said Faruk Saribas ’06 (Economics) from Istanbul Technical University.

Geher said there are a number of outside activities to make the experience a cultural one. These include a trip to the Federal Reserve in New York City.

“We’re really happy with what’s happening with the students,” said Lavallee.

Lavallee added that talks have been initiated to create a similar program in Monterrey, Mexico. For more information, visit

JULY 3, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 13

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