New College benefactor leaves legacy of learning

By Su Byron

Akgun Temizer, right, with his first scholarship recipient, Ozan Gokdemir at Commencement May 17.
Akgun Temizer, right, with his first scholarship recipient, Ozan Gokdemir at Commencement May 17.

Akgun Temizer, a generous benefactor of New College and the creator of a $2.5 million scholarship fund, died Oct. 31.

MaryAnne Young, New College Foundation’s vice president of advancement and executive director, says that the entire New College community feels the loss. “Mr. Temizer saw the impact of his scholarship first-hand and was thrilled to have played a part in it. We are indebted to Mr. Temizer for his fierce dedication to transforming the lives of students at New College.”

Temizer established a $1.3 million scholarship program in 2016 for students at his former high school in Ankara, Turkey, to attend New College. The scholarship covers out-of-state tuition costs, living expenses, and transportation to and from Turkey for breaks and holidays. In 2017, Temizer enhanced the scholarship fund with an additional $1.2 million gift.

Mr. Temizer’s commitment to learning had deep roots. He was born in Konya, Turkey, and grew up in the capital city of Ankara. His parents were of modest means. But, thanks to Turkish government support, his primary school, middle school, high school, and college education were all free of charge.

“I’m a product of public education,” he said proudly. “It was the best free education you could get.”

Thanks to that education, Temizer went on to a successful career on the international stage. Highpoints included his years as a staffer at Turkey’s American embassy and his work as an analyst for the International Monetary Fund.

He was deeply grateful for the power of learning. That gratitude is the foundation for his scholarship. Education had transformed Temizer’s life. He wanted to offer that same transformation to a new generation of Turkish scholars at New College.

“Education is my priority,” said Temizer, who had been a U.S. citizen since 1969 and resided in Sarasota. “I was fortunate to have received a great education from elementary school through university in Turkey. My desire is for the Turkish students to come here and experience this great nation. Once they graduate, they can go back to Turkey and apply what they learned from the United States.”

Before establishing the scholarship, Temizer had already named New College in his will. “I realized I wanted them to see that money now,” he said. “Spending money on education is an investment for the future.”

He saw that investment start to pay off in the final years of his life. Ozan Gökdemir ’15 was the scholarship’s first recipient. In the spring of 2019, Ozan graduated from New College with a degree in computer science. Thanks to the scholarship, Atalay Kutlay ’18 and Nisanur Genç ’19 are also studying computer science. Many more Turkish scholars are sure to follow in the years ahead in a host of fields.


— Su Byron is a writer for the New College Foundation.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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