Büyükerşen, Yılmaz (b. November 8, 1937, Eskişehir), academician and politician who received the Vehbi Koç Award for education. He is a former rector of Eskişehir Anadolu University and is currently serving as mayor of the city of Eskişehir.
Büyükerşen completed secondary education at Eskişehir Atatürk High School and in 1962 became one of the first to graduate from Eskişehir Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences (EAECS). In the same year, he began as an assistant in the academy’s Department of Finance. He completed his doctorate in 1966, became associate professor in 1968 and professor in 1973. In 1976, he became chair of EAECS, and in 1982 became rector of Eskişehir Anadolu University (AU), when it replaced the academy. Following two terms as rector, he assumed the roles of chair of the AU Department of Distance Learning and director of the Institute of Communication Sciences.
Professor Büyükerşen was a pioneer throughout his academic life, playing a pivotal role in the foundation of the distance learning system known in Turkey as “open education”. The “Open Education Model for Turkey” that he developed was implemented in 1982 with the opening of the Open Education Faculty. Professor Büyükerşen contributed towards making AU one of Turkey’s largest, most dynamic and innovative universities. He was also president of the Radio and Television Council (now the Radio and Television High Council, RTÜK) for two terms until 1993. He was one of the founders of TEGV, which began in 1995 with the aim of supporting children at elementary school by giving them the opportunity to receive free extra-curricular education and served for four years as head of its first board of directors.
Professor Büyükerşen was elected mayor of the Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality in 1999. In the course of his ongoing tenure, he has encouraged the development of significant infrastructure, making Eskişehir a model city of urbanization, changing the fabric and silhouette of the city and making it an attractive destination. He has developed practices based on the principle that education is not a job for educational institutions alone, but also requires support from museums, arts institutions and municipal centers, transforming the entire city into a vibrant educational center.
Professor Büyükerşen is also a sculptor, known for his Atatürk busts and sculptures, and particularly his wax figures. A museum of wax figures bearing his name was opened in Eskişehir in 2013.
Professor Büyükerşen received the Vehbi Koç Award for education in 2018 in recognition for his work in open education, his contribution to AU and TEGV, as well as his achievements as mayor of Eskişehir.