MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
March is always an exciting month, once again arriving quickly with the awakening of nature after a relatively cold and dark winter. We are so lucky to live in such a fantastic campus where we can observe the beautiful flowers on trees all around us.
We had reason to think/talk about the important and defining contributions of women in our society, when we celebrated the International Women’s Day on March 8th. I strongly believe that societies that do not fully engage women in education, culture, economy and other walks of life are destined to compete globally with one hand tied behind their back. We are so very proud of all the pioneering women who have broadened Turkey’s horizons. Each one is a part of our cultural and scientific identity.
Prof. Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, who passed away tragically on March 2nd, has been at the forefront of such wonderful women. She was an outstanding scientist, a true humanist and a woman of the Turkish Republic. Among her countless contributions to science, her most important legacy are the many students and highly accomplished scientists she has educated and inspired.
As a member of our faculty and as the holder of our UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development, an honour recently bestowed upon her, she undoubtedly would have introduced many more young scientists of various disciplines to the joys of science. She would have been a beacon of inspiration to young social scientists, which she also supported through the Human Development Research Award that she recently established in her own name.
We had so many more projects we wanted to do together; her passing away was sudden and much too early and deeply saddened all of us. As we mourn Prof. Kağıtçıbaşı, we shall also celebrate the remarkable life she has lived and her many contributions to science and Turkish society.
National Doctor’s Day, celebrated on March 14th every year in Turkey, was a joyful day as we held our annual White Coat Ceremony, during which our first year Medical students wore their white coats. It was a moment of pride & joy not only for us but also for our doctors to be, their friends and families. Our Medical students are special, as they are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for others and healing the sick. We were all very proud and emotional as our first Doctors took their Hippocratic oath during our 2016 Commencement.
This month, I attended the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia Universities Summit in Ulsan, South Korea and the Asia-Pacific Association of International Education (APIE) conference in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. These trips also provided the opportunity for visits at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in Seoul, South Korea and National Tsing Hua University in Taipei, Taiwan. Both are excellent institutions with which we are establishing partnerships for undergraduate and graduate student exchange, PhD student recruitment, joint research programs and dual & joint degree programs. These are excellent additions to our partner portfolio of universities, consistent with our renewed drive for internationalization and our emphasis on Asia, as discussed in my February Newsletter.
Ulsan is a less known city than Seoul but is the cradle of heavy industry of South Korea. It is a coastal town that hosts Hyundai-heavy industries, massive automobile plants and shipyards. Some of the largest merchant marine ships and oil tankers in the world are built there; imagine a ship that is 450 meters long!
Both in Taiwan and South Korea, governments pour amazing amounts of funds into universities, to support infrastructure, facilities, and research and development. The universities can thus competitively recruit faculty and provide generous opportunities for students and faculty. This trend is in fact the same elsewhere in the Far East, for example in China, Singapore and Hong Kong. As the Asian economies rise in global prominence, so will the impact of their universities in science, education and culture.
Last weekend I attended the Turkish-British ‘Tatlıdil’ (mellifluence) Forum, an NGO founded by the two governments, Turkish and British, back in 2011, which meets every year alternately in Istanbul and London. The group consists of businessmen, academics and government officials from both countries who spend a day and a couple of evenings together, discussing global events and opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. In spite of the fact that these two nations have fiercely fought one another a century ago, there are amazing commonalities between the psyche of the two peoples and opportunities for cooperation/collaboration, particularly because of the UK’s departure from the European Union (Brexit). As far as our university is concerned, we would like to see enhanced ties in the area of Research & Development, for example via individual one-on-one partnerships with British companies.
As I wish all of you a beautiful, fruitful and happy Spring, I cannot help but follow up on the architecture of our ‘Portal of Knowledge’ and ‘Koç Plaza’. Try to get here before sunrise on a day with clear skies and please try to watch the sunrise through the Portal of Knowledge. You will understand why the Koç Plaza is designed like the Piazza San Marco, with its side opening to embrace the beautiful sunrise.
My best wishes and regards to you all,