MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
January marks the start of a new year, new hopes and new expectations. It is a time for us to take stock of what we do, to step back and to try to come to terms with the ultimate ‘meaning’ and ‘impact’ of our otherwise routine daily lives and actions.
The first half of January 2017 was tough, challenging and beautiful. Istanbul saw one of the heaviest and longest snowstorms of the last few decades and our University was closed (for both students and staff) for four straight days in a row. The decision to close or not during snow time is always difficult, usually leading to some tension between us and the students, but was rather easy this time in view of the intensity of the storms.
While causing substantial hardship for a lot of students, faculty and staff, the heavy snow manifested itself in the form of some of the most beautiful scenery around our campus. I realized as I enjoyed the snowy scenery and brainstormed through the past and the coming years that all of us here at Koç University are the custodians of such a special mission. Our institution has become a true beacon of light and hope for education and creation of scientific knowledge for our people and indeed all of humanity itself. Driven by the contagious enthusiasm and hard work of our bright young students and faculty, enabled by the unprecedented breadth of support of our Foundation, and empowered by an environment of freedom to pursue dreams, we are now raising the bar for others to strive for and, in doing so, we are impacting the entire academic scene in our country and our region.
As I look forward to the months ahead, I can almost see the faces of new faculty candidates that will be coming to visit us during the next few weeks. We have more than 18-20 faculty searches in progress at this time and I personally meet with every candidate who ends up on our short-list and who is brought in for an interview. Whether they end up joining us or not, meeting these young faculty candidates always fills my heart with new hope for the future.
What’s more, I look forward to seeing the faces of more than 1200 new BS-BA/MS-MA/PhD students who will graduate in June and the 950 new undergraduates who will join us this summer. The latter group would have just successfully completed the very tough national exam, ranking among the top 3% of all high school graduates in the country. Literally the brightest of them all, full of new ideas, drive and enthusiasm; how lucky we all are to have the opportunity to teach to and learn from such a crowd!
I also look forward to the new MS-MA/PhD students who will join us this year. These graduate students are the engines of knowledge generation and our ‘research university’ heavily relies on them. They are internationally selected from among the best; we are proud of the fact that half of our PhD students come from outside Turkey.
Sprinkled in the year ahead will be those precious times when we are filled with pride and joy because of the successes of our faculty and students. If 2017 is anything like the last few years, our faculty members will continue to break new records in publishing outstanding papers, securing new sponsored research grants and receiving new awards and recognitions.
I look ahead to the completion of our new ELC building at the end of February, providing marvelous new space for our ELC faculty, 10 new classrooms and Administrative Offices for the Registrar, Finance Directorate and Facilities Management. Moving ELC faculty, Registrar and Facilities Management out of the Library will in turn create much needed new space for the expansion of student study areas in our library. It is greatly satisfying to see the new building materialize in front of our eyes, so very similar in appearance to our other buildings, designed by the brilliant architect of our campus Mozhan Khadem. Did you know that our dear friend Mozhan designed the campus in the form of courtyards surrounded by buildings, very much in the Ottoman architectural style? Did you notice that the building housing the Student Center is not precisely parallel to the library building? Do you know why?
The construction of our much larger building at the northeast end of our campus is also proceeding at a rapid pace. This new Science & Technology building is designed to provide much needed new space for the development of our research programs. It will house the Law School, no less than 3000 m2 of new classroom space, new offices and laboratories for all of our Colleges, a high-technology clean-room, a high-bay laboratory and our new Research Center for Translational Medicine supported by the Ministry of Development. The two separate surface pieces of this new building are connected as one below and are designed to surround ‘the last courtyard’ of our beautiful campus. We may have to wait until 2018 for the completion of this building; however, all outside work should hopefully be done by the end of this year.
I am also excited about our upcoming ‘campaign’ for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of our University, over an 18 month period starting in February and culminating on October 4th 2018, the 25th year of the ‘First Lecture’ delivered by our founder the late Vehbi Koç. As we continue our hard work to strive for the better, this campaign will allow us the opportunity to celebrate the journey of our University to become one of the leading research universities in the region while at the same time unifying and solidifying the bonds between our community of faculty, students, staff and alumni.
Personally, I am also looking forward to teaching my ELEC206/PHYS302: Electromagnetism course, as I do every Spring Semester. Although my duties as President often overwhelm my schedule, I greatly enjoy my classroom dialogue with typically 75-80 students, teaching and learning electromagnetic theory using my own textbook. For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than being in class, responding to the curiosities of and interacting with bright young students.
January 21st was the first anniversary of the untimely passing away of the late Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman of the Board of Koç Holding. The explosive growth of the Holding during his tenure provided the financial basis for our Foundation’s generous support of our University during the past decade, thus enabling us to excel as an institution. Mustafa Bey was a most warm and embracing person, at peace with himself and always supportive of others, and we shall continue to miss him. We are currently in the process of establishing the Koç University Mustafa V. Koç Center for Maritime Archaeology, to honor him and his passion for diving and nautical archaeology.
Upon all these reflections, our path as an institution is clear; the best way to live and honor the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and our founder, Vehbi Koç, is to do our level best in setting an example of outstanding excellence in education, and generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge. With clarity of thought and purpose, we shall strive to do so with passion and with unrelenting perseverance.
My best wishes and regards to you all,