Through decisions of its Academic Board, BİLGİ awards honorary degrees to persons who have made unique contributions to humanity with their work in science, philosophy, culture and the arts, have made exceptional efforts for domestic peace and world peace, and have pioneered the promotion of human rights and democracy.
On 7 July 2005, İstanbul Bilgi University awarded an Honorary Degree to Jack Lang, former French minister of culture, who played a major role in helping France attain its current position in culture and the arts.
After obtaining degrees in law and political science, Lang served as a manager of the Chaillot Theatre. Lang went into politics in 1977, was active as a member of the Municipal Council of Paris for a long time, subsequently attended the Socialist Party and was appointed Minister of Culture during the presidential term of François Mitterrand.
A wide range of artistic and cultural events such as music festivals and street concerts were held in his tenure as minister. He worked as State Minister of National Education and Culture in the Pierre Bérégovoy government and held the position of Minister of National Education between 2000 and 2002.
On 7 May 2010, six universities* with membership to Laureate International Universities, including İstanbul Bilgi University, awarded an honorary degree to Nelson Mandela, the first black president of the Republic of South Africa, an anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for political reasons before being elected the first black president of the Republic of South Africa. He was one of the major figures of the African National Council, which stood against the government consisting of whites, a minority in South Africa, and the "apartheid" (racial discrimination) policy adopted by them. Mandela, who became a symbol for the battle against racial discrimination worldwide and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, passed away in 2013.
* İstanbul Bilgi University, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Universidad Andrés Bello, Walden University, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, Universidad de las Américas
On 29 May 2012, İstanbul Bilgi University awarded an Honorary Degree in Political Science to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, for his contribution to the political integration of Europe on the basis of universal democracy and civil society values, and his political activities.
Schulz was born in 1955 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the city of Hehlrath located on the German - Dutch - Belgian border. Becoming a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany at the age of 18 and starting his publishing career after high school as an apprentice, Schulz joined the local youth organization of that party.
At the age of 31, he became the youngest Mayor of North Rhine-Westphalia. He remained in office for 11 years. In 1994, he was elected to the European Parliament and served on committees such as Human Rights, Liberties and Home Affairs. Starting in 2000, he has been active as the group president of SPD deputies in the European Parliament. In 2004, he became the group leader of the Socialists and Democrats, the second largest group in the European Parliament. During his term as group leader, he was a prominent member of his group in various issues including social justice, employment, growth, reforming financial markets, fighting climate change, equality, and democratic consolidation. Schulz served as President of the European Parliament between January 2012 and January 2017.
On 12 November 2014, İstanbul Bilgi University awarded an Honorary Degree to Yaşar Kemal as part of the "Yaşar Kemal Honor Day" it organized for the distinguished author who has become a universal symbol of Turkish literature and conscience.
The honorary degree awarded by İstanbul Bilgi University upon the decision of the Academic Board was presented to Ayşe Semiha Baban, Yaşar Kemal's wife. The university awards honorary degrees to persons who have made unique contributions to humanity with their work in science, philosophy, culture and the arts, have made exceptional efforts for domestic peace and world peace, and have pioneered the promotion of human rights and democracy.
Baban read out Yaşar Kemal's message to the guests in the hall. Kemal's message was as follows: "I would like to heartfully thank İstanbul Bilgi University. You made me very happy. All my friends who came here to share this happiness with me, thank you!" Stating that Yaşar Kemal was steadfast in his belief in the power of art and the responsibility of the artist, Ayşe Semiha Baban read further excerpts from the message of the great author. Kemal's message continued as follows: "In this age, I do not believe in any form of art that is distant from the public. I would like to say I am an "engaged" author. I am engaged to myself, to words, and to human dignity. I tried to sing the song of enlightenment, kindness and beauty. I wanted my novels to tell the truth, just like life, and to unite with life. Because life means deriving hope from hopelessness. Humankind has survived by doing that."
Yaşar Kemal passed away on 28 February 2015.