April 21, 1937 – July 20, 2011
Ülkü Erzurumlu was born in Kars, Turkey, in 1937. She received her B.A. degree from Portland State University in 1974. Prior to earning her degree at Portland State, she studied at the University of Ankara, Turkey in late 1950s. She worked as a language instructor through Portland State’s Peace Corps Training Programs for Turkey from 1963-1968.
In 1970, she became the first Turkish instructor to teach Turkish language and literature at Portland State as part of Middle East Studies Center’s Foreign Language Program. Until 1976, Erzurumlu taught first and second year Turkish. In 1977 when Portland State did not have the available funds to support the program, second year Turkish was cancelled. Erzurumlu’s students expressed their disappointments by writing letters to the academic affairs unit. In order to meet the needs of the students who wished to continue their Turkish language education, the program sought support for funding. Erzurumlu continued teaching at Portland State until 1984. She also took initiatives to lead and participate in outreach activities to promote Turkish culture outside of the classroom. Ülkü Erzurumlu, a pioneer of Turkish Studies at Portland State University, contributed immensely to advancement of Turkish language and culture in Oregon.
Her contributions to Turkish Language and Literature program were and are appreciated very much by her colleagues and students. We would like to share a few words from the student letters that were written to the academic affairs at the time of second year Turkish class cancellation:
- “Mrs. Erzurumlu is an outstanding instructor. Her patience and her enthusiasm are remarkable, and she is a great asset to the Middle East Studies Center”
- “Ülkü Erzurumlu, being well educated in her field not only helped me learn Turkish with much enthusiasm and pleasure but also brought an understanding of her country and people”