National Geographic : 1957 Sep
408 Caps and Gowns Solemnize Robert College's Eighty-seventh Commencement Few American ventures abroad have worked as powerfully as Robert College toward the betterment of human life and understanding. Long before the United States Government conceived technical aid and educational exchanges, Robert College with private resources was training the men who built modern Turkey. Alfred Ogden, prominent New York attorney and president of the Robert College Board of Trustees, here addresses the class of 1955. Third from right sits Dr. Floyd H. Black, whose service as teacher, then president, of the college spanned 44 years. Portraits, left to right, show Hamlin, Robert, and Kemal Atatiirk. glee the explanation given privately by one Turkish official: "There was a little revolution in Crete," he told the educator. "We assumed that if the permit wasn't issued promptly, the United States Navy would aid the rebels." Founder Helped Erect First Building Once he had his permit, Dr. Hamlin wasted no time. He designed the first college build ing, supervised its construction, and worked on it with his own hands. Hamlin Hall stands today as the vine-covered heart of college activities. Back in the United States, Christopher Robert had succeeded in interesting other Americans in his crusade. Private donations began to trickle in, and the faculty was in creased to keep pace with the growing stu dent body. Hamlin remained in Turkey long enough to give the college a firm organiza tional foundation, then returned to the United States to campaign for an endowment fund. His successor, Dr. George Washburn, served as president for 25 years. Under his administration much of the present plant was completed, and the little school that had started in Bebek began to loom large in the educational picture of its time and place. The success in Istanbul of American-style education quickly bred successes elsewhere. Today U. S.-financed cousins of Robert Col lege, scarcely younger themselves than that first American college in a foreign land, carry on in Beirut and Cairo.* Students came from Persia, Iraq, Greece, Germany, Russia, the Levant, and the Balkans. The college became a microcosm of two con tinents. There were times in that formative period when revolutions and actual warfare between some of the smaller nations caused consider able strain on relations among the students. But the administration maintained a neutral attitude in all matters of politics, and no real trouble ever occurred. Today, principally because of the difficulty * See "American Alma Maters in the Near East," by Maynard Owen Williams, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, August, 1945.