Haydar Aliyev, Late President of Azerbaijan

I had been told that İhsan Doğramacı spoke many languages including Azerbaijani Turkish. Different dialects exist in different regions of Azerbaijan such as Baku, Nakhichevan, Gence and Karabağ. I realised that İhsan Doğramacı knew all these dialects. I liked him very much and invited him to Baku. The Azerbaijani people also like him very much and in a very short time we realised that İhsan Doğramacı was a rare personality brought forth by the Turkish world. His only goal has been to make every sacrifice for the progress and education of his people. İhsan Doğramacı has always been greatly admired in all international organizations he has worked for and has been elected as President by a number of them. He has always held a very special place both in the international media and international conferences. On behalf of Turks, we are proud of him.

Those who have been educated in the universities established by Doğramacı are like seeds planted in a field. They will grow and their reputation in knowledge and culture will reach the sky.

From Haydar Aliyev's statement at the unveiling of the İhsan Doğramacı statue commissioned by him for Bilkent University, June 2002.


Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Professor Doğramacı, you have devoted your entire life, and your whole family fortune, to the noble causes of child health and higher education. You started with a two-room outpatient clinic in a slum area of Ankara in 1954. It became the Ankara University Institute of Child Health and the leading Children's Hospital in the country, and today bears your name.

It also became the nucleus of a new Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, which in 1966 was described by the Vice-Chancellor of London University as a model of the educational system that England was trying to achieve!

Not content with that, you went on to found universities: first a public one in the 1960s and then Bilkent, Turkey's first private university, in the 1980s, when you presided over a reform of the country's whole higher education system.

You have never allowed bureaucratic obstruction to discourage you, and you have never let yourself be tempted by material rewards, or by offers of the highest political posts.

But you have been a better ambassador for Turkey than any diplomat. True to Atatürk's dictum, 'Peace at Home, Peace in the World', you have not confined your philanthropy to your own country.

From 1960 onwards you represented Turkey on the Executive Board of UNICEF; and in 1992, with the late Jim Grant, you donned a flak jacket to tour Sarajevo's ruined hospitals and start a fund-raising campaign for the children of Bosnia.

Even your love of music has been placed at the service of world friendship and peace. You gave this country its first international symphony orchestra, and yours is the inspiration behind the Anatolian Music Festival.

In short, Professor Doğramacı, you are indeed a model citizen of the world, such as the United Nations would wish to find in every country.


Gavin C. Arneil, Professor Emeritus, University of Glasgow, Scotland


A very determined man, he makes firm and usually immutable decisions on which he acts promptly and forcefully. Just as you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, so some of his colleagues have been upset by some decisions. An old saying is that if you ride with a tiger, the ride will be rough at times and we all knew that - but loved him just the same!

On the other hand, he is kindness itself when a colleague is in need. Every time my wife June and I arrived at Istanbul airport we had VIP treatment in transit and flew on in luxury. We called it his magic carpet! On one occasion when I was in Istanbul and due to fly home the following morning, a member of the IPA Executive who was due to fly to Ankara two days later took ill. İhsan was abroad, in Cairo I think. As I could not stay, I contacted his office in Ankara and asked them to arrange for someone to look after him in Istanbul. Next morning when I went down for breakfast, there was İhsan to fly the invalid to Ankara on his 'magic carpet'.

The Congresses he arranged in the newly freed Turkish-speaking former Soviet Republics were a wonderful experience for us. On one flight there were not enough 'business' seats, and he insisted on offering his business-class seat to a colleague and thus flew economy.

Ayser is his rock. Quiet and unassuming, she is liable to be greatly underrated in her tranquil ever welcoming way. "Just to know her is to love her" is another line from Robert Burns, and epitomises the high regard we all feel for her. She and my wife June were great buddies and used to shop together. When she was unwell some years ago we all felt sorrow in our hearts and rejoiced at her recovery.

The final word on him I leave to poet Robert Burns (yes, again!). Doğramacı has many ranks, Doctor, Professor, President, Chairman, Hoca Bey and so on. Burns wrote: "The rank is but the coin's stamp, the man's the gold, for all that!" İhsan is a golden man, a twenty-four carat golden man.


Giuseppe Benagiano, Former Secretary-General, International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics


İhsan Doğramacı is 'a reformer', armed with the same iron will as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey and the greatest reformer that country has ever had. Whereas Atatürk had the daunting task of initiating the global reform that made him the architect of the transformation of the decaying Ottoman Empire into a modern vigorous Republic, Doğramacı had the equally daunting task of continuing and completing the reform initiated by the Father of all Turks, in the field of higher education and, more specifically, medical education.


Arne Olav Brundtland, Inaugural Laureate of the İhsan Doğramacı Prize for International Relations for Peace


İhsan Doğramacı is a man of ideas - and a man of action. Turkey needs such people, and not only Turkey. One of the great challenges of the world is how to communicate meaningfully between civilizations. Dr Doğramacı is in the forefront there as well. Reason, reflection, reasonableness, resolution: it is all in short supply.

Many persons have good reason to be thankful for the fact that Dr İhsan Doğramacı has used his position and his means to really make a difference.


Mamdouh Gabr, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, Cairo University, Egypt


Professor Doğramacı enjoys a charismatic personality that is appealing to everyone. His wisdom and his ability to convince others are among the reasons why he was able to build friendships all over the world. He is always very keen to treat every issue in an impartial, clear and constructive way.

Professor Doğramacı is a great donor, willing to offer his time, knowledge and wealth for the benefit of mankind. He donated his personal wealth to establish two universities: Hacettepe and Bilkent. Through his remarkable capabilities and perseverance, Bilkent University became an internationally recognized institution ranking among the top universities worldwide. It offers hundreds of scholarships to talented students in all fields.


Talât S. Halman, Professor and Chairman, Department of Turkish Literature, Bilkent University, Ankara


Professor İhsan Doğramacı ranks as a pioneer and a lifelong hero of our contemporary enlightenment about the good life for children leading to enduring peace and happiness throughout the world. To that end, he has created a 'Paediatric Republic'. Eventually, if his great example is followed and his good works are continued, the world might become a 'Children's Republic.'


Donald J. Johnston, Former Secretary-General, OECD


A remarkable Turk indeed! This is almost the title of a biography of İhsan Doğramacı. One could just as easily have described him as 'a remarkable person', 'a remarkable human being' or even perhaps, 'İhsan Doğramacı: one of a kind'.


Halfdan Mahler, Director-General Emeritus, World Health Organization

The World Health Organisation is in the business of human energy. And human energy has many, many aspects to it. I would just like to exemplify a few of these aspects through a friend, a colleague, a guru - that is İhsan.

I think a part of energy is certainly the energy of knowledge, and İhsan has proven that he is not a proponent of what a poet friend of mine once said: "Experts have their expert fun
Telling one ex cathedra
Why nothing can be done."


Sir Horace Phillips, Late Former British Ambassador to Ankara


His Humanity
The many obstacles and setbacks in his progress have tempered but not embittered him, and he has remained humane. Until Hacettepe Hospital was opened he saw patients in his consulting rooms - not for money, but to stretch a hand out to help people. His generosity and sensitivity were widely known, as testified to by colleagues, who benefited from this, mostly on the occasion of the illness of their own children. He not only treated them free of charge but would if necessary pay the cost of their treatment abroad if this was required.


Tomris Türmen, Former Special Advisor to the Director-General, World Health Organisation


It is a challenging task to attempt to describe İhsan Doğramacı, an extraordinary individual who possesses a rare quality being both a dreamer and a doer.

I am one of those individuals who have had the privilege of working with him closely to witness his leadership qualities in national and international scientific arenas, in the health and also the education sectors.

His charisma attracts, his convincing power unites all groups and he welcomes everybody to take part in a challenge, all with the objective of improving the health and well-being of children, families and the society he lives in. As the work expands, flourishes and the dream becomes a reality with a life of its own, Professor Doğramacı disappears! He is already involved in another big initiative leading to even bigger teams, realising another big idea. I know of no one, except Mrs Ayser Doğramacı, who can match his galloping speed with such elegance.

Compiled from the book Children in His Heart, Youth on His Mind: Tributes to İhsan Doğramacı in Honour of His Sixty-Five Years of Service to Child Health and Education


Abdullah Gül,
President of the Turkish Republic

Professor Doğramacı is a unique person who has devoted his entire life and his family wealth to future generations, and to the development of opportunities for the training and higher education of youth.


Süleyman Demirel,
9th President of the Turkish Republic

My friends and I decided that this young professor, a world-renowned physician who was knowledgable about everything, spoke many languages, and knew the world, should be our prime minister. I sent two of my physician friends to him to propose this. The next day Doğramacı disappeared from Ankara. He couldn't accept such an offer and he didn't, because his only wish was for the citizens of his country to enjoy better medical care and for the country's youth to receive a better education. At that young age he turned down a nomination as prime minister, an offer that no one could refuse.

I always have seen him as a national monument. He is a living monument.


Vecdi Gönül,
Minister of National Defense

Hocabey is a man of firsts.
Hocabey's most outstanding trait is that he helps everyone.
When helping people, political affiliations, social class, position and status are unimportant to him.


Rahmi Koç,
Honorary Chairman, Koç Holding

First of all, people trusted İhsan Bey. They knew that he was an honest, frank person. They knew that he was serving the country. They would see him struggling to make things happen.


İsmet Sezgin,

Above and beyond the service he has provided in science, education, and higher education, Hoca is a faithful friend.

I don't think there will be another "Hocabey." There is an old expression, "He is from an extinct people." He is even beyond that, because there has been no such people. Such individuals are very rare. These are people that history and necessity have brought us; they are created for service, they come to serve. A service that causes them to give away all their wealth and resources for the causes they believe in. One can only honor them.


Prof. Dr. Halil İnalcık,
Bilkent University

I believe that by opening the way for such universities İhsan Doğramacı has performed a very important service for Turkey's development. Perhaps today Turkey's astonishing growth and improvement are due to Bilkent, which led the way as the first nonprofit private university.


Prof. Dr. İlker Baybars,
Carnegie Mellon University

To be realistic, I couldn't have imagined that this university would come to this level in 20 years. But Hoca surely did. And he was experienced; he had already founded Hacettepe University. So it is about vision, about determination and about values. Hoca is a person who is well-off financially but who knows that money isn't enough for success.


İdil Biret,
State Artist

Speaking a language so well, with such a beautiful accent, is an indication of a very good ear. If he had played an instrument, I am sure he would have been a wonderful virtuoso.


Ayten Gökçer,
State Artist

Hoca always initiates things. Big reforms begin with Hoca. Other clever universities take his ideas and apply them. But the initiator is always Hoca. Doğramacı is a person who whatever he does, does it best in Turkey. He has done the best for music. Today the Bilkent concert hall is one of the three leading concert halls in the world as far as acoustics are concerned. He brought the most skilled people here to achieve this.


Gülsin Onay,
State Artist

After Atatürk, İhsan Doğramacı is possibly the individual who has contributed the most to music in our country.

Thankfully we have such a presence in Turkey, and what he has done has enriched us and given us a very different world.


Jane Schaller, Executive Director, International Pediatric Association

I am so impressed to see what a single man has done to change the world around him.


Yüksel Söylemez,
Retired Ambassador

In many countries, across five continents, when Turkey is mentioned, it means İhsan Doğramacı.



Books on His Life and Achievements

Memories of My Ninety Years

Press After İhsan Doğramacı

Bilkent University Newspaper Prof. İhsan Doğramacı Special Issue (PDF*)
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