An Ionian University in Smyrna

By Stavros T. Stavridis

The Greek High Commissioner Aristidis Sterghiadis was very unpopular among the local Greek Smyrniotes because of his authoritarian demeanor and uncontrollable temper. As a reformer, his most cherished enterprise was to establish an Ionian University in Smyrna that could be seen in raising, improving and enriching the education, social and cultural aspects in the lives of all Smyrniotes.

(a) The Plans

K. Karatheodoris, the Professor of Mathematics of Gottingen University in Germany, was invited by Sterghiadis to oversee the establishment of this institution. Furthermore Law 2251 of July 14, 1920 appearing in the Greek Government Gazette laid down “the foundation and operation of the Greek University in Smyrna."

On February 5, 1921 George Horton, the US Consul in Smyrna, mentioned in his report to the State Department in Washington DC of Sterghiadis' plan to create a university in that city. Horton's report is quoted in full below:

“In a recent conversation with Mr. Sterghiades, Greek High Commissioner, he outlined to me his plan for the creation of a University in Smyrna. The High Commissioner has already requisitioned for this object the fine building erected by Rahmi Bey, the ex Vali of Smyrna on the plot of land which was formerly a Jewish cemetery. This building, which is now about to be completed, is one of the finest in the city. The University will consist of three schools with five branches:

1.A School of Natural science and engineering for training engineers of roads and bridges, architects, electricians, mechanical engineers, metallurgists, natural philosophers, mathematicians etc.,.

2. A school of agricultural studies.

3. A school of Oriental languages with professorships for Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Armenian and Hebrew, including the history, ethnology and the legislation of these people.

Besides the above mentioned school the University will also include five branches for the present which will be liable to be increased according to the wants of the country.

Branch 1. will consist of a microbiological institute and an institute of public hygiene with the purpose of combatting epidemic diseases such as plague, cholera, malaria, typhus, typhoid fever, typhus exanthernaticus, smallpox, syphilis etc.,

Branch 11. School of high commercial studies.

Branch I11. School for farming including a model farm and monoculture.

Branch IV. School of foremanship, land surveying etc.

Branch V. Musulman High School for Muftis &Cadis (i.e. priests and judges.)

For each language taught in the University as well as for each branch of it a Specialist will be engaged from European countries. For instance, for Agriculture, professors will be engaged from Monpellier and for Oriental languages a professor from Austria and so forth.

This is Mr. Sterghiades plan for the beginning, but, will later on, he means to add more branches to this University according to the wants of the country."

(Source RG59 Records of the US Department of State relating to Internal Affairs of Turkey 1910 29 867.42/11 February 5, 1921.)

(b) Ready for business

The first department of the new University, an institute of Health was about to come into operation, when the Turkish Nationalists occupied the city on September 9, 1922.1ts prime focus was to be in the areas of hygiene and bacteriology. Some of its programs which were ready to be introduced included: combatting malaria, trachoma and phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis); to provide training for midwives and nurses; to provide for the education and training of doctors to administer the public health system; and to embark on massive sanitation program to improve the sewerage and water supply of the city.

In conclusion Sterghiadis may have envisioned the new University providing tangible benefits for all Smyrniotes. These included: (1) to improve the quality of all life for both Christians and Turks; (2) to have an educated and productive workforce; (3) to educate and train the future civil and political leaders of the Vilayet (Province) of Smyrna; and finally to further strengthen the Greek administration and presence around Smyrna.

Stavros T.Stavridis Historian/Researcher, National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

© 2005

About the Author

Stavros Terry Stavridis was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1949 of Greek parents. He migrated to Australia with his parents in September 1952. Stavros has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Political Science/Economic History and B.A (Hons) in European History from Deakin University and M.A in Greek/Australian History from RMIT University. His MA thesis is titled "The Greek-Turkish War 1919-23: an Australian Press Perspective."

Stavros has nearly 20 years of teaching experience, lecturing at University and TAFE (Technical and Further Education, the equivalent of Community College in the US) levels. He has presented papers at international conferences in Australia and USA and has also given public lectures both in Australia and on the West Coast of the US. Many of his articles have appeared in the Greek-American press. He currently works as a historical researcher at the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.

Stavros' research interests are the Asia Minor campaign and disaster, Middle Eastern history, the Assyrian and Armenian genocides, Greece in the Balkan Wars 1912-13 and the First World War and history in general.

Readers interested in the works of Stavridies may read more of his fine articles posted on HCS at the URL

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