MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Our Newsletter this month marks the second anniversary of this tradition of monthly Newsletters that we started in October 2016. It is thus quite fitting that I get to reflect upon our 25th anniversary celebrations, that took place on October 4th, 2018, the anniversary of the founding of our university as a result of the brilliant foresight of the late Vehbi Koç, signified by his ‘First Lecture’ delivered on October 4th, 1993.
Before the day of our anniversary, October hosted two other of our 25th year events, KU musical performance and the special issue of the Kule Magazine, as the 22nd and 23rd of our sequence of 25 events that have been ongoing for almost a year. KU Musical Club presented a special performance for our 25th anniversary which was a huge success. The musical with the theme, 'Homecoming', not only complemented our 25th anniversary celebrations but was also funny, joyful and vibrant. Our special edition of Kule Magazine was a retrospective of all of the 22 prior issues, including a timeline of 25 years and also a full list of the 25 projects created solely for our silver anniversary. Copies of the Special Issue can be requested from our communications office or viewed online at 25.ku.edu.tr.
For almost a year and a half, we have been talking about our 25th Anniversary and our plans to celebrate it. Last March, I sent out our kick off email, talking about the exciting period awaiting us. In that message, I talked about this celebratory program as an opportunity to create events and projects that make a real contribution to science, research, humanity, and society at large, while also serving as an excellent way to express and honour the founding philosophy that has guided us for 25 years!
Not only have we accomplished what we set out to do and more, but we also certainly finished off with a final bang that would stay in the minds of all who were there to witness a truly magnificent celebration of 25 years. The events of our birthday were set to acknowledge not only our past but also our future. Our final ceremony included addresses from myself and the Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Ömer Koç, a great audio visual presentation, beautifully complimented by a dance performance of one of our students and an unforgettable ‘25th Year Lecture’ by the Honorary Chairman of our Board, Rahmi M. Koç. Exactly 25 years after the visionary 'First Lecture' of the late Vehbi Koç, Rahmi M. Koç’s address on ‘esteem’ (‘itibar’) not only continued that great legacy but was inspirational, humorous, thought provoking and timely, all at the same time.
The final audio-visual light show that followed in the Administrative Sciences courtyard hosting the statue of our founder and then at the Koç Square was much more than we could have imagined; it was pure magic, with beautiful images and words projected first on our tower and then on the walls of our Suna Kıraç Library.
The fact that every single piece on stage at Sevgi Gönül Cultural Center and then outdoors was designed, planned and executed by our very own students, faculty and employees from our Communications Office and Department of Media & Visual Arts, is a source of great pride for all of us. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all those who have made these celebrations possible.
Last but not least, I would like to mention all our different academic units who came up with wonderful activities, from panels to conferences to seminars, so true to their work and significant for their own disciplines, which constituted many of our 25 events since the Fall of 2017.
What I heard from the members of our Board and many of our friends who witnessed our October 4th celebrations that the events were truly unique and original experiences, deserving all the praise due and worthy of our great institution.
I will surely miss the 25th anniversary visual exhibitions that have been hanging on the walls, elevators and main corridors around our campuses; it was a very special time for all of us and I am proud and grateful to be the President of this wonderful University.
I would like to finish off with a few of the sentiments I had shared in my opening remarks on October 4th. (you can watch it in full here.)
The voice of everyone who has ever contributed to Koç University, who has attended or delivered a lecture, who has spent the night studying in its library, who has participated in fervent conversations in the courtyards, will resound pleasantly in the Portal of Knowledge. I hope that we celebrate together many future anniversaries full of great achievements, of sincere pride and of exchanges of useful information. I salute you all with respect and love.
You can also view all the videos and see photos from our celebrations on October 4th and all our other anniversary events on our now archival website 25.ku.edu.tr.
The month started on one stage and ended on another one for me, albeit the latter being a very different one. I was invited as a speaker to the Darüşşafaka School Program 'Roof ('Çatı') Talks', a TEDx type series of inspiring talks by names from different walks of life. Darüşşafaka School provides full scholarship and boarding for needy, talented students with one or no parents, thus creating equal access to good education for those who do not have the means. It is very similar in philosophy to our Anatolian Scholarship Program, under which we have many students from this prominent institution. The theme for the Talks this year was ‘Little Stories for Big Topics.’ It is the stories that really count and I was very happy to share some of my own thoughts on the basic premise that people produce the best and the most when they are the freest. I told the students and attending educators that at Koç University, we thus strive to hire the best faculty, recruit the best students and then create and maintain the freest environment in which they can be the most productive, creative and successful. I asked many of the students in attendance to be rebellious, in the sense of following their inner voices rather than doing what they are told. I might have stirred the audience a bit with my somewhat unconventional ideas but I believe it was indeed inspiring. I congratulate Darüşşafaka Schools for starting this wonderful project and wish them all the best of success in the future as this 150+ year old institution is such an important one for our country at large.
On October 26th, myself, two of our Deans and our two Vice Presidents travelled to Erzurum for an all-day visit at Atatürk University. We were wonderfully hosted by President Professor Ömer Çomaklı and his colleagues at this great institution of our country, founded in 1957 as the first university east of Ankara. We observed and identified many areas presenting opportunities for joint work and signed an umbrella agreement. Examples of areas of collaboration include joint scientific projects, student and faculty exchanges and joint degree programs. We thank President Çomaklı for receiving us so warmly and for the wonderful ‘Cağ Kebab’ lunch and look forward to the opportunity to reciprocate with a visit at our campus by himself and his colleagues.
We ended October by celebrating the 95th anniversary of the founding of our Republic, the very reason for our existence as a nation and as a country. Recognizing that universities such as ours are among the most important institutions of our Republic, we embrace the legacy of our founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk by continuing to strive for excellence in learning, teaching, and scientific research, so as to make leading and defining contributions to the development and enlightenment of our country and our society.
My best wishes and regards to you all,