Koç University News & Announcements Bulletin

May 2018


May is one of the busiest, if not the busiest, month of the year for all of us. As the spring semester and the academic year come to a close, our days are marked with several year-end performances from student clubs, year-end activities of schools and administrative units and the completion of classes. With final exams now upon us, most of our students prepare for a well-deserved summer; some planning vacations, some summer school, internships or other exciting engagements, which I am sure will keep them all busy. Our faculty members, on the other hand, get ready for research and work on many projects they were not able to do during the academic semesters. As for our administrative units, the work pace might wind down slightly in the summer due to the absence of most students, but remains intense with graduation and then the undergraduate candidate visitation period shortly thereafter.

On May 12th, I attended an Alumni event of my Alma Mater, ODTÜ (Middle East Technical University or METU) where Vehbi Koç Foundation received an award. The Foundation Chairperson Mrs. Semahat Arsel and Vice Chair of the Koç Holding Board Mr. Ali Koç respectively, gave wonderful speeches reflecting on the METU legacy. These kinds of gatherings always make me feel hopeful and give me a sense of belonging. Many years had passed since I graduated from METU but being amongst the METU crowd and acquaintances reminded me of the importance of one’s Alma Mater in the psyche of an individual. It is amazing that at its 60th year METU now has 130,000 alumni, a lot of them in influential positions in government, industry and other sectors. At Koç University we are currently at 13,000 alumni and counting, but it is pleasing to see that many of our graduates are also rapidly on their rise to influential positions.    

I recently had a very productive meeting with our Alumni Association Board and was very happy to see increased enthusiasm and effort on the part of our alumni in engaging their Alma Mater. As we are nearing the end of our 25th year funding efforts for the Anatolian Scholarship Program, we have come along well with fundraising drive, even though we are still far short from our initial target of 1 new student supported by each of our graduating classes.

Exactly this time last year, we had the official start of our 25th silver anniversary celebrations with a sequence of exciting events for the entire university community, alumni and friends of Koç University, culminating on the 25th year of our birthday, October 4th, 2018. We sure had a busy year with numerous events, as has been reported in my previous newsletters. May was no different when it came to celebrating our 25th anniversary.

We had an event lined up almost every day of the first half of May, starting off with a panel from our College of Social Sciences and Humanities, The Child State of Mind: What We Learn from the Early Years (Aklın Çocuk Hali: İlk Yıllardan Öğrendiklerimiz) to a packed audience at our incubation center in Şişli (KWORKS). The panel, discussing what can be expected of pre-school children in terms of mental skills and how those skills can be supported by parents and educators, drew a crowd mixed with educators, counselors and people in related fields. We were also pleased to see our professors, our alumni and our PhD students as panelists in this wonderful event, presenting on their respective fields, including language, spatial skills, math, and technology.

Our College of Engineering held a full-day conference, The ‘Intelligent’ Future, discussing the future that awaits us, including various sessions on the Future of Cloud Computing, Human Robot Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, Rise of Artificial Emotional Intelligence and Digital Age in the Life Sciences. The speakers ranged from our own expert professors to prominent names from other universities in Turkey, US or Europe, making it a very fulfilling experience for all students, faculty and guests.

Both our Schools of Nursing and Medicine held successful symposiums, gathering highly recognized and influential names, both national and international, in their respective fields. During the Nurses Week Symposium, we were very happy to have Mrs. Semahat Arsel with us. Our Dean of the School of Nursing and myself had the privilege of presenting to her a silver tray, engraved with the names of all nursing associations in Turkey, thanking her for her immense contributions to the nursing profession. The symposium, focusing on equal access to health services, jointly organized by SANERC and Vehbi Koç Health Institutions, was broadcast live and was watched in more than 20 cities from Edirne to Kars in Turkey, also reaching to participants from the USA and Australia. 

The School of Medicine symposium, jointly organized by the College of Engineering and KUTTAM (Koç University Translational Advanced Medicine Center) on Cardiovascular Research: Biodegradable Materials and Stem Cells in Cardiac Surgery gathered a host of names ranging from the Turkish government to researchers from the University of Geneva and the University of Southern California. 

The idea of the Koç University Science Fair developed from the annual Science and Technology Day, organized by the Colleges of Sciences and Engineering . In its first year, devised as one of our 25th anniversary celebrations, the Science Fair had a very successful start, surely establishing a new tradition certain to flourish and expand more in the years to come. This project is also a very nice extension of our science-for-the-public project KURIOUS, corresponding directly with our mission to reach more audiences and help them love science. With Engineering and KWORKS Lab Visits, Science Demonstrations at the Odeon, KURIOUS activity desk in the Koç Square, Marbling Student Club doing workshops and Computer Student Club doing a hackathon, it was such a fitting day of celebration of science at our school.

I thank all those who were involved in making each of these 25th year celebration events successful. Please make sure to check our 25th year website for photos/videos of all of these events. We have now completed 18 of our 25 events, with the remaining 7 to be completed by the end of the year.   

As I had mentioned earlier in my message, the most important annual event for our university, the Commencement Ceremony, is just around the corner. With almost three weeks left, it is hard not to feel the excitement that floats around our campus. I am very pleased to announce that our Commencement Speaker this year is Prof. Andrew Hamilton, the President of New York University (NYU). Prof. Hamilton is a well-known chemist, with his many honors including his services as the former Provost of Yale and former Vice Chancellor (President) of the University of Oxford. He has been a Member of our Board of Overseers since 2013 and we have immensely benefited from his counsel in developing our institution. We are now very much looking forward to his address to our students as our Commencement Speaker. 

Activities and shows of our Student Clubs also continued this month with great success. KU Orchestra gave a concert with the famous jazz musician Kerem Görsev as one of our 25th year celebration events. We were proud to see our musicians keep up with and hold their own in concert with a true master of jazz. Our Folklore and Dance Clubs also gave wonderful performances, mixing both modern and traditional routines that were a feast for the eyes and ears. I congratulate all our students who have participated in these club activities. University experience is an important period of transition in one’s life and should not solely comprise of academic learning. Being on stage, performing in front of an audience and having the discipline to learn the hardest routines can very well be more important experiences which lay the foundation of one’s adult life.

Another tradition, The Koç University Spring Festival, successfully took place on May 12th; although hosting 4500+ excited youth is always worrisome, everyone immensely enjoyed the event as the weather this year also allowed us to do so. Congratulations to all of our students and thanks to our Office of the Dean of Students, our Dean Bilgen Bilgin and Associate Dean Serpil Ekşioğlu, for overseeing these great activities of our very talented students.

On May 16th, I continued my trips to different hubs of industry around the country, promoting university-industry relations and seeking support for our Anatolian Scholarship program.  This time I travelled by car, visiting 6 different companies in Kocaeli and Izmit. I am heartened to see the deep admiration of our university by the Heads of companies I visited and their appreciation of our efforts to capture excellence in education and in scientific research, while operating as a true foundation university, thanks to the massive contribution by the Vehbi Koç Foundation to our operating budget as well as our capital expenditures.  

May 19th, Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day, is the day on which the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, landed in Samsun to start the National War of Independence and the process of the founding of Modern Turkey in 1919. In one of his addresses, Atatürk even stated:  'I was born on May 19th'.  The fact that Atatürk gifted this important day to the Youth importantly underscores that the future of our country is indeed entrusted to them. It is the young generation that will build and own our tomorrows. At Koç University, we shall continue do our part by striving harder than ever for excellence in education and scientific research so that we can equip our students with the best foundations upon which to secure our future. 

Now we look ahead to June, when we celebrate the success of our graduating class with a touch of nostalgia and bittersweet feelings of parting with them.

Best wishes and regards to you all,

Umran Inan



Science Fair on Campus

In celebration of Koç University’s 25th anniversary, College of Sciences and College of Engineering in collaboration with the Communications Office hosted the first Koç University Science Fair on May 17th. The fair was a full day of different science exhibitions and hands-on activities which engaged visitors with experiments, demonstrations, and lab tours. Student volunteers and clubs also participated in the fair. High schools from İstanbul and Turkey visiting our campus had a chance to participate and enjoy their time. The fair was a highly promising engagement opportunity we hope to continue for many years to come.

The Child State of Mind: What We Learned from Early Years

A panel discussion, ‘The Child State of Mind: What We Learned from Early Years’, was hosted by the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in celebration of Koç University’s 25th anniversary on May 3rd. The discussion was moderated by Professor Yankı Yazgan and covered topics such as language development, spatial skills, mathematics and technology use.

Nurses Week Symposium

In celebration of Koç University’s 25th anniversary, School of Nursing in collaboration with SANERC and Vehbi Koç Health Institutions hosted “Nurses Week Symposium” on May 14-15. The symposium, focusing on equal access to health services, was broadcast live and was watched in more than 20 cities from Edirne to Kars in Turkey, also reaching to participants from the USA and Australia.

The “Intelligent” Future

On May 4th, “The Intelligent Future” conference was hosted by College of Engineering in celebration of Koç University’s 25th anniversary. Through a whole day of speeches and panels, the participants had the opportunity to listen how technologies are creating amazing breakthroughs in important fields such as Cloud Computing, Human-Robot Interaction and Artificial and Emotional Intelligence.

1st International Symposium of Koç University on Cardiovascular Research

On May 18th, School of Medicine hosted the symposium on “Cardiovascular Research: Biodegradable Materials and Stem Cells in Cardiac Surgery” jointly with College of Engineering and KUTTAM. The event gathered a host of names ranging from the Turkish government to researchers from Turkey and all around the world.

Koç University Orchestra featuring Kerem Görsev

To celebrate the University’s 25th Year Anniversary, Koç University Orchestra gave a special concert at Sevgi Gönül Cultural Center on May 15th. The concert featured a wide repertoire of beautiful pieces of music and a special guest, Kerem Görsev. We were proud to see our students as brilliant musicians on stage.

VEKAM Exhibition: “Weaving History: Mystery Of A City”

VEKAM, in collaboration with Rahmi M. Koç Museum Ankara, presents its new exhibition "Weaving History: Mystery of a City". At the heart of this exhibition lies Ankara’s historic camlet (sof) fabric, produced from the Ankara goat’s mohair, and showcases this commercial product and the significant place it holds in the history of Ankara. The exhibition displays fabrics and various artefacts from the collections of Ankara Ethnography Museum of the T.R. Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Sadberk Hanım Museum and Topkapı Palace Museum. And as a first in Turkey, visitors will have a chance to view one of Ankara’s most important representations, “View of Ankara”, an 18th century painting depicting Ankara, on loan from the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.

ANAMED Exhibition: Ottoman Arcadia: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886)

ANAMED’s new exhibition “Ottoman Arcadia: The Hamidian Expedition to the land of Tribal Roots, 1886" showcases, for the first time, a three-volume set of photographic albums that were prepared following a decree by Abdülhamid II and were eventually gifted to Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany. The albums reflect the accumulative efforts of the expedition team, comprised of prominent photographers and painters of the era. Their primary task was to document in detail the early Ottoman settlements such as the empire’s first capital city Bursa, as well as other cities like Yenişehir, İznik, Söğüt, and Bozüyük.