MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
June is the month of graduation; it is that bittersweet time when we wave good-bye to our dear students and when they set out for their next adventure, the adventure of life as grown-ups, as jobholders and ultimately as movers and shakers on the national and world stage. This year, June 17th marked the 23rd Commencement of Koç University and 8th for myself as President. Each graduation may feel the same in terms of the routines we follow, but is in fact so very different in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that each time we have a brand new graduating class and their families.
The week before the ceremony is always so busy, bustling with excitement, as time seems to pass faster during our extensive preparations.
The excitement never fades, not for me, not for my colleagues and not for the Koç Family, who have been present since the first day of this great institution.
Being the first speaker at any event, let alone at Graduation where 6000 eyes are upon you can be daunting. However, the energy I draw from the students and their excited, proud, happy parents is so palpable that once on the podium, nothing seems to matter. I feel and mean every single word of my Commencement addresses. This year, I tweeted my tips of advice prior to the commencement ceremony, sharing a preview of my address with the graduates. I think I may have thus started a tradition...
Professor Steven Chu, our Commencement Speaker this year, gave a remarkable and very timely speech, concentrating on two important problems looming on our future, namely mechanization and climate change. I urge all of you to watch his full speech on our YouTube channel.
His brief address did not reveal the full extent of the depth and breadth of this remarkably humble but truly outstanding scientist and genuine academic citizen. Winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, the 12th Secretary of Energy of the United States and the first scientist to hold a US cabinet post, Professor Steven Chu’s real passion is nevertheless nothing but the scientific details of his projects and his many ideas. I am wholeheartedly thankful to him and his dear wife, for taking time from their incredibly busy schedules to pay us a visit, albeit just for 2 days.
It is unfortunate that Mother Nature had to interrupt our graduation ceremony, as it started to rain heavily right in the midst of it. Fortunately, we had already successfully completed the School ceremonies earlier, during which students received their diplomas in front of their families. Once the rain became unbearable, we had to cut the ceremony short, nevertheless the all-important throwing in the air of graduation caps was as beautiful as ever, maybe even more so because of the rain.
Rain, is in fact, considered to be a sign of good fortune and even a beautiful gift in many cultures. Thus, we hope that the rain that poured on us this year, which we were able to avoid in the previous seven Commencements held during my tenure as President, may well mean good fortune for the Class of 2017.
The rain also created one of the most colorful, cheerful and enjoyable photo memories of any of our previous Commencements. One social media post called it a ‘giant Skittles campaign’ referring to the thousands of multi-colored rain ponchos handed out in rapid order to protect our guests from the rain.
I would like to take this opportunity to address the Class of 2017:
You should be proud of your Diploma because you have achieved the goals you needed in order to graduate. However, please also be aware and proud of the wealth of personal relationships you have formed during your time here. Enjoy and cherish this moment; we shall always remember you and take pride and joy in your future endeavors.
Always pursue what you love so that you are successful and that your contribution to your country is the best and most extensive.
Always be uncompromisingly relentless in following your curiosity; never accept anything without filtering it with your own conscience.
Never walk the paths shown to you; build your own pathways so that others can follow on them.
Be clear and be concise in expressing yourself. Use Turkish and English carefully and articulately.
View mistakes as opportunities to learn new things. Always be positive, constructive and modest.
Whatever comes your way in life; never give up your quest to pursue your passion.
Always include art, culture and sports in your life; do not get caught up in success and do not merely focus on your profession.
Always be kind, compassionate and giving toward others; never forget that your most important and lasting legacy in life is the people you work with and influence throughout your life and career.
May your lives be full of health, happiness, excitement and success...
Another annual event that is of great importance for us is our Board of Overseers meetings, which were held during June 21-23, 2017. This event involves the arrival on our campus of our esteemed members of the Board of Overseers for their annual review, with a detailed report in their hands about virtually every academic endeavor of the university, which was sent to them at the beginning of June. The meetings involve a detailed all day presentation to them of our progress, successes and challenges, including extensive free discussion, followed by a second day of their meetings with delegations of individual Colleges/Schools and Graduate Institutes. During the third day, Boards of Overseers and Trustees meet together without the university administration, providing a unique opportunity for the Trustees to hear all important feedback and advice from our visitors. The meetings are then concluded with a final session during which the President meets with both of the Boards together, to receive feedback and guidance. This year was the 24th meeting of our Overseers and their advice and counsel has been our guiding light and measure of merit, contributing significantly to the development of Koç University as a center of global excellence in education and research.
My best wishes and regards to you all,