MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
April is the month of the full-blown spring, when the city of Istanbul goes crazy with tulips/tulip festivals and when the Judas tree (‘Erguvan’ or ‘Cercis siliquastrum’) blossoms dominate the streets and the hills of the city with their fantastic colors.
Just before the one week Spring Break, we were pleased to hear that Koç University realized yet another outstanding achievement with the announcement of the 2017 Recipients of the Science Academy’s Young Scientist Awards Program (BAGEP) of the Science Academy. Our faculty members were the recipients of 12 of the 42 Awards given out this year. The fact that our university has received the largest number of BAGEP Awards given in the last 5 years underscores the outstanding standing of our academic faculty. Our wholehearted congratulations to all of our recipients; they made all of us so very proud at the Award Ceremony.
The outstanding research performance of our faculty members is also accompanied by relatively high quality of teaching on our campus. The university-wide average of Instructor and Course evaluations by our students continue to steadily improve, being respectively +2.26 and +1.86 for Fall 2016, on a scale ranging from –3 (Extremely Poor) to +3 (Extremely Good). These evaluations are encouraging, especially as we realize that they represent averages over no less than 800 courses over a wide range of disciplines, class sizes etc. Nevertheless, we realize that these evaluations are not the only measure of teaching quality and we shall continue to strive to elevate the quality of teaching on our campus to greater heights.
Koç University Office of Learning & Teaching (KOLT) was founded in 2009 for this purpose, as first of its kind in Turkey, and we are pleased to observe that it is now emulated at several other universities across the country. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage more of our faculty members to take advantage of KOLT, to improve their teaching and in-class and out-of-class discourse with the students. I also strongly encourage more of our students to take advantage of KOLT to elevate their learning in and out of class.
On a related topic, we are also happy to see that the level of performance as well as diversity of choices of our students has steadily improved in the last 4 to 5 years. The average freshman class GPA is 2.32 for Fall 2015 compared to 2.15 for Fall 2011. The percentage of freshman students with GPA<2.00 is 35% for Fall 2015 compared to 45% for Fall 2011. No less than 24% of our students are now pursuing double major degrees, representing 57% of all those eligible (GPA>2.8). The numbers of our students pursuing Minors and Tracks have also reached historic highs. It is indeed satisfying to see our students taking full advantage of the interdisciplinary breadth of opportunities at our university. During my brief chats with graduates as I sign their graduation certificates, I am pleased to observe that they have experienced the ‘freedom of opportunity and choice’ environment that we strive to create for them.
Our university must not only excel in research and teaching in its academic programs. I believe that the quality of services provided by the administrative units at our institution is one of the most important and defining contributors to the excellence of our university. For this purpose, we must commit to a constant process of internal review and analysis. As President, I have therefore started a new initiative to elevate the quality of services by encouraging all of our Directors to keep track of ‘follow-thru’ in services provided by their units. A newly designed ‘Internal Services Satisfaction Survey’ is to be conducted among faculty and staff twice a year, starting the week of 24 April 2017 and should provide us with baseline data from which we can implement appropriate strategies and plans to improve what we do and how we do it. A similar survey to be conducted among the students will be launched before mid-May.
I strongly believe that improvements on our service levels would also benefit our bottom line and enable us to more effectively utilize the tremendous and generous resources that are provided to us by the Vehbi Koç Foundation. As President, I feel a deep sense of responsibility as the current custodian of these valuable resources that must be used for the benefit of our people and society in the most impactful way possible.
We were very pleased to learn this month that the Koç University School of Nursing has been awarded accreditation status from The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), becoming the first and only Nursing School in Turkey that has been accredited by an international accreditation commission. I would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks and congratulations to our current and former Deans & Directors of the School of Nursing as well as their teams of faculty members for their hard work and dedication. Above all else, our wholehearted thanks, deep gratitude as well as congratulations are also due to Mrs. Semahat Arsel, the Founder and the Benefactor of our School of Nursing, for her enormous sacrifice and unrelenting support of not only our School but also the Nursing profession in general. We shall continue to work our hardest to be worthy of her support and dedication in our quest to elevate the Nursing School to even further heights.
The Faculty Outstanding Teaching and Administrative Staff Outstanding Service Awards that we introduced in 2012 allow us to acknowledge the effort, experience and time put into how we teach to our students and how we serve this institution. During our General Faculty and Staff Meeting on April 21, we celebrated those who have shown the kind of dedication and commitment that have deserved our Awards this year. We wholeheartedly congratulate all of our Award recipient faculty and administrative staff members. We are proud of their achievements and wish them continued success in their careers.
Another tradition that we started back in 2012 was the annual rowing race between Koç University and Kadir Has University 8-man rowing teams. Kadir Has President Prof. Mustafa Aydın and myself initiated this to emulate the traditional Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities that was started back in 1829. While we have a long way to come anywhere close to the longevity of the Oxford-Cambridge tradition, we are on our way there, having conducted six races so far, with Koç winning the first three and Kadir Has winning the last three, including the one on 22 April 2017. We are somewhat disappointed to have lost this year but the sportsmanship and excitement, which we cherish, was very high. I congratulate our great team for their tireless efforts and we will work with them to make sure we come back with a stronger performance next year.
As an example of another student activity, the Koç University Law School Jessup Team scored a major victory this month in Washington D. C., representing Turkey at the International Rounds of the 58th Jessup, the world’s oldest and largest international moot court competition, with participants from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries. Koç University Team won the national rounds and the best memorial price as they were selected to represent Turkey. In Washington D. C., our team was selected as the second team in the Best Applicant Memorial Prize in the international rounds, ranking ahead of Harvard Team and others. Congratulations to our students Abdurrahman Kayıklık, Gözde Berkil, Hümeyra Çolak and Osman Pepeoğlu; we are proud of their achievement…
April is also the month when our fantastic student performance clubs exhibit their performances in the Sevgi Gönül Auditorium. My wife and I cherish these; the evenings go on my calendar as early as in January and are protected at all possible costs. So far, we watched the Theatre Club. Musical Club, Turkish Folk Music and Classical Music performances, all of which were outstanding. We are looking forward to the Orchestra Club and Folklore Club performances this coming week.
I am proud of the fact that no less than 90 clubs are currently active at our university and I congratulate all of our students for their tremendous efforts in these activities. This dimension of university life is at least as important as the academic ones and we support them generously and wholeheartedly. We are proud of the many good deeds and societal contributions that our students accomplish in the context of these clubs. I encourage all of our students to please be active in at least one of these clubs during their 4-6 years on this great campus.
My best wishes and regards to you all,