This paper analyzes an institutional change in a large, Turkish public university, the Middle East Technical University (METU), by using an anomaly-based change model. The model explains change as an organizational response to anomalies caused by internal and external organizational conditions. The study used a qualitative case study design that included interviews with 51 individuals, and, analysis of institution-specific documents. Anomalies derived from the interview findings compared with a separate set of anomalies, devised from the document study, that are attributed to the strategic change agenda developed by the current president of the institution. The paper argues that human thinking and problem solving as well as organizational cognition and problem solving do proceed through existence and recognition of a problematic situation. So, anomalies are the ID cards of any major change in organizations in that they carry important information about where the organization comes from and where it should proceed to. Implications for the nature and management of change in higher education organizations are discussed.