MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
As I write these lines, spring is in full bloom with nature awakening and the sun touching the different parts of our campus much more generously. Sunrise beaming light and warmth through the Portal of Knowledge is around 06:45, just as I usually arrive at my office every morning, radiating hope for the future, and charging us once again with a sense of duty and responsibility to make the best of this great institution for our country, our region and humanity at large.
Our 25th year celebrations were also in full bloom in March. As shared in my previous messages, 25 events of different sizes/types, in line with the Koç University mission and vision are organized with contributions from different university units.
The month of March hosted three such events, organized by our Vehbi Koç Ankara Studies Research Center (VEKAM), Law School and the College of Administrative Sciences & Economics respectively. I thank all those who were involved in making each of these events successful.
'A son and a Pioneer of the Republic: Vehbi Koç 1901- 1996' Exhibition, organized by VEKAM provides a first-hand account of the story of our founder, Vehbi Koç, as a pioneering entrepreneur, born and raised in Ankara in the early 1900s. I urge all of you to go and see this exhibition at the pavilion outside the entrance of the Registrar's Office. In just a few minutes you not only get a glimpse of the life of Vehbi Koç, his influence on the development of our country and highlights of his major enterprises, but also feel his vision, his belief in his country and his utter sense of duty to the land that has given so much to him. I am also glad to hear that our ELC students are studying the exhibition and working on an exercise. What a great way to introduce our newest students to our founder.
Prof. Yavuz Alangoya Memorial Conference on Procedural Law organized by our Law School involved a panel discussion on the 'Purpose of Adjudication', the interesting issue concerning the degree to which judges can be motivated by the desire to reach to the 'truth'. Prof. Alangoya was a true citizen of our university, both in terms of his teaching at our Law School for many years and as a Member of our Board of Trustees since the founding of our university. His early passing in 2016 saddened all of us who dearly miss him and his thoughtful contributions and guidance. The attendees at the Prof. Yavuz Alangoya Memorial Conference including his family, especially his dear wife Emine Alangoya, many faculty members, Koç Group colleagues and friends who have known him for a very long time, made this event all the more special.
During the Sustainable Development Conference, organized jointly by our College of Administrative Sciences & Economics and Graduate School of Business, our alumni, faculty and business partners all gathered together. I find it critical that we embrace our alumni more and that they find numerous reasons to come back to our wonderful campus share their experiences and give back to an institution that has given them so much. This event with close to 30 panelists, all our alumni, working in different areas on sustainability, was a joy to see.
As we all celebrated International Women's Day on March 8th together, I reminded my followers on Twitter (@umransavasinan) that all men and women of us should embrace with love and respect so that we can build the best tomorrows for our children and grandchildren . . .I firmly believe that countries and societies that do not effectively engage their women in education, economy and business are destined to compete in the global environment with one hand tied behind their back.
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.
Providing a broadly based education to our students requires a different approach to teaching; it is clear that the days of one generation 'teaching what they know' to the next are long over. It is now time to learn & teach together with our students so that we can maximize the dialogue among the generations in this 'appointment' of ours, for the benefit of both generations. Our tradition of celebration of learning and teaching at our university for each Academic Semester that we started in 2012 is just one of those tools that I believe creates a benefit for both students and teachers. As we do every semester, we announced our celebration of teaching & learning on our campus, by recognizing the classes that have emerged as those in which learning and teaching manifested at the highest level. I would like to once again take this opportunity to especially congratulate the students and faculty in these classes.
On the night of March 19th, I travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I stayed less than 18 hours to appear on a Panel titled 'Delivering a Successful Research Strategy' organized as part of the Times Higher Education (THE) Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Summit. I stressed the unique research opportunities and challenges provided by rapidly rising universities in the MENA region, such as Koç University, and suggested that we all work together to create attractive PhD scholarships to keep the PhD talent from within MENA in this region. Recruitment of PhD students remains the steepest challenge for universities such as ours, as regardless of how good we are, we toss heads with global name brands in recruiting the best PhD talent worldwide.
I spent all day on March 21st in Konya, to which I have not been in so many years. I was hosted by the Konya Chamber of Industry headed by Mr. Memiş Kütükçü, whose office attended to every detail of my visit, organizing separate one-on-one meetings with no less than nine local industries during the course of the day. There is a wide range of export-oriented industrial activity in Konya and the objective of our visits were to explore potential partnerships in the contexts of R&D and our Anatolian Scholarship program aimed at securing support for bright-but-needy students from Konya. It turns out that my visit was in the midst of the Konya 2018 Agricultural Fair; I was amazed to see so many foreign dignitaries in attendance during the lunch, especially from virtually every African country, in attendance there to buy agricultural machinery and other products. Africa is the most unexplored continent both from the point of view of natural resources and market potential, so I was delighted to see Turkish companies so very active in selling and marketing their products. I am truly thankful to the Konya Chamber of Industry for hosting my visit in such an excellent way, including an excellent lunch and a dinner involving unique delicacies of this beautiful and historic Anatolian city.
The month of March this year unfortunately also came with the saddest news. Three of our dear Alumni, Mina Başaran (Business Administration, 2012), Jasmin Baruh (Business Administration, 2012 & Koç MIM, 2014 / GSB Training Assistant Specialist) and Liana Kalma (Business Administration, 2012), perished in a horrible plane crash over Iran on March 11th, deeply saddening all of us. It has only been six years since I handed them their diplomas during our 2012 Commencement; such an incredible and senseless waste of bright young lives of women who would have done so much more for our country and humanity at large. I express our deepest condolences to their families, to all of our university community and to all those who knew and loved Mina, Jasmin and Liana. May God bless their souls and may they rest in peace.
As we now enter April, let us all realize that spring is a lovely reminder of how beautiful our campus is. I look forward to seeing more of you at the Koç Square or around faculty pavilions, enjoying the wonderful season.
I am also quite excited about the upcoming musical performances of our student clubs and our continuing 25th year celebratory events.
Best wishes and regards to you all,