MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
As we end the year, it is a season to be jolly, a time for reflections on the past year and resolutions for the coming New Year...
Our traditional New Year celebration dinner for Faculty & Staff was once again a successful event, where 700+ attendees had a lot of fun while enjoying the company of their colleagues. As usual, we recognized those colleagues who have been with us 10 or 20-years by presenting them their commemorative service plaques. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them again for their commitment to this institution. Their service and dedication is much appreciated and we look forward to many more years with all of them. I cherish the year-end dinners as these joyous events also provide an opportunity for me to express our deepest thanks and appreciation to our founders, generous supporters and dearest members of the Koç family.
Another tradition, our General Faculty & Staff Meetings, is also one of those times I cherish. These meetings give me an opportunity to share our long-term vision and objectives for the current year, important developments and successes of our faculty, as well as other news about the wonderful things that happen on our different campuses.
Our December meeting this year also marked a first, as we live-streamed to Koç University Hospital (KUH) so that our colleagues there had a chance to follow our meeting. Initial feedback indicates that the streaming was well received and that continuing these broadcasts in future meetings would greatly help in our efforts for better alignment & integration of KUH with the rest of the university.
As we now have done for many years at our December meetings, we presented Outstanding Faculty Awards, celebrating the wonderful work of our faculty and their contribution to scientific research and development. This year, in recognition of their long-standing work in their respective areas from all disciplines, their robust research projects and many high impact publications, we presented 3 President’s Awards and 6 Faculty Awards. I wholeheartedly congratulate all our colleagues for their extraordinary research performance.
On December 12th, we were proud to be in Ankara with the 2017 Recipients of the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) Young Scientists (GEBİP) Awards Program. Koç University was the recipient of 2 of the 39 awards given out this year. The fact that our university received the largest number of TÜBA-GEBİP Awards given during the past 17 years since the inception of this program is a huge feat in itself. We congratulate Asst. Prof. Alptekin Küpçü from College of Engineering and Asst. Prof. Ayşe Koca Çaydaşı from College of Sciences and wish the continuation of their successful studies. A third recipient who was not listed as Koç University, but who really was also one of us, was Asst. Prof. Ceyda Açılan Ayhan of the School of Medicine, whose transfer from TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center to us was completed later in December, a few days after the TÜBA Award ceremony. We thus also congratulate Dr. Açılan and wish her success in her studies.
On December 8th, I travelled for a few hours to Antalya, to address a gathering of about 300 Executives of the Scientific & National Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), who were there on a retreat. TÜBİTAK is one of the most important institutions of our country, providing substantial funding for research programs across the board in all areas and all over Turkey and recognizing excellence in research with its Science and Encouragement Award programs. As a person who brought Sponsored Research Programs totaling no less than $100M (USD) to Stanford University from multiple agencies of the United States government, and as a person who supervised the dissertations of no less than 60 PhD graduates, my portfolio of experiences in R&D are rather unique. I was thus pleased to share my thoughts and recommendations with the TÜBİTAK Executives, encouraging them to remember that people produce the best and the most when they are the freest and that they should therefore always think in terms of maximizing creativity and curiosity-driven research, rather than shackling people with so much bureaucracy and regulations that extinguish the creative human spirit. I spoke for one hour followed by a full hour of tens of very good questions and greatly enjoyed the interaction.
I am quite happy to inform you about two new scholarship programs at our university. Providing a great education to talented students with limited financial means has been an important part of what we have been doing in the past few years. As our Anatolian Scholarship program has risen to new heights, I am happy to see that we are embarking on other programs, which provide such opportunities to students from around the world as well. One such program is Koç University Al-Ghurair STEM Scholars program, which started a year ago. In partnership with Al-Ghurair Foundation, the program targets underserved, high-achieving Arab students who are in need of financial support. This Fall Semester, we welcomed the first cohort of 14 students from Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Palestine and Jordan, who started their undergraduate and graduate courses in different fields of sciences and engineering. This program is indeed a great opportunity for our university to diversify and internationalize our student body with talented Arab students.
In early December, we also signed an agreement of cooperation with the Ministry for Turks and Communities Abroad (YTB) to co-fund PhD scholarships for talented students from around the world to conduct their studies at Koç University. PhD recruitment continues to be one of our strategic priorities as these are the students who drive knowledge creation in a research university such as ours. I invite our entire faculty to familiarize themselves with the Turkish Scholarships Doctoral Scholarship agreement, as it will offer new funding avenues for international students to join our community starting with the Fall 2018 admission period.
I would like to conclude with a final note, an announcement of a new initiative to recognize the hard work and creativity of our Faculty & Staff. We have started a new recognition scheme, called Appreciation Awards (‘İyi ki Varsın’), to help us appreciate the contributions that make this university a great place. All of us have a stake and contribute to the success of our university; as we say in Turkish ‘we all have our salt in the soup’ and this scheme represents a new way to recognize those contributions that rise above the pack. Further program details are to be shared with you by the Human Resources Directorate.
In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for making me the luckiest person... As I reflect on my own past year of 2017, I would not have wanted to be anywhere else but here, with you, as the President of this wonderful university which has been more than my home for the past 8 years. I am truly proud to be leading this great institution, which is a beacon of light and hope for our country, and I look forward to taking it to even greater heights with the help of all of you.
I wish all of you and your families Happy Holidays and a great New Year of 2018, full of nothing but happiness, health and success.
My best wishes and regards to you all,