MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
July is also a busy month for us, although it comes right after our busiest month of June, during which we have our Commencement and Board of Overseers meetings.
Our attention in July is consumed by the all-important undergraduate student recruitment and placement period, which just ended on July 26 after a two-week marathon.
The fact that graduation and recruitment are usually quite close to one another presents a paradox of sorts. As we say goodbye to our newly minted graduating class, we welcome the new class shortly thereafter, both events occurring usually in a matter of a couple of months. This succession presents a whirlwind of emotions experienced back to back; the sadness of farewell with graduation followed by the joy of welcoming our newcomers.
This month we had no less than 6000 visitors, of which 3000 are candidate students who had a chance to visit our wonderful campus, talk to our professors and deans and listen to a host of presentations. Many of these visitors will not end up enrolling at Koç University; nevertheless, we strongly feel that our ‘rendezvous’ with them is an outstanding opportunity for us to orient these bright students in making healthy and well founded choices. After all, the fact that these visitors are here means that they have scored high enough in the national exam to have the opportunity to be placed at Koç University; that in turn means that they are within the top 3% of all high school graduates in the country!
My personal highlights of these fast-paced and exciting two weeks are the times when I get to stand every single day in front of a full house of eager families and students at our Sevgi Gönül Cultural Center (SGKM), to share with them the vision of our university and to talk to them about what makes us different. My goal really is to try to orient them in the direction of making choices along the lines of what the young candidates are really excited and enthusiastic about, rather than being overly guided by the advice and direction of parents, siblings and friends or by the perceived employment opportunities in one field or another.
As part of my brief introductory remarks, I spell out in macroscopic detail the tremendous investment of the Vehbi Koç Foundation in our university, both in terms of capital investment in our facilities and the generous financial contribution we receive every year for our operating budget. I talk about the deep sense of responsibility that myself and my colleagues feel in trying to utilize these resources in the most impactful way for our bright students so that we can best serve our country. I am so glad to see that we are seeing the fruits of these investments as the profile of students that get placed each year goes higher and higher.
There is a Groundhog-day effect in these gatherings, as I basically talk about the same stuff everyday, albeit to completely different audiences. I repeatedly talk about our emphasis on providing a free environment guided only by the wants and wishes of students and faculty, minimizing central regulation and bureaucratic impediments to the pursuit of excellence. I tell our visitors that our vision is to gather excellent people and then ‘get out of their way’. People produce the best and the most when they are the freest, so all we really have to do is to provide and protect the environment.
I am proud to be talking about our successes, whether it be in terms of faculty awards or the fact that 8 out of the 14 mega-grants (1.5 to 2.5M Euro each) in Turkey from the European Research Council are hosted at Koç University or the exceptional rankings of our undergraduates or the richness of our student clubs. My feeling of pride about these accomplishments of our great institutions is accentuated even more by the admiration and respect on the many faces in the audience.
The question and answer session that is part of these events is always enjoyable and memorable, especially when excited and worried parents sometimes take it upon themselves to ask off-the-beat questions, even as the students sitting right next to them are obviously embarrassed by the exchange. Nevertheless, more often than not, I am pleased to see the student candidates in charge, asking questions with great self-confidence and poise, with parents listening on the side.
Our other excitement in July is the selection of the Anatolian scholarship students who come from far corners of our beautiful country and who are quite successful in the national placement exam but are ranked just below the lowest rankings of placement at KU with full scholarship. This year, we were able to select no less than 87 students from among 3400+ applicants from all around Anatolia. We are very grateful to our donors, both companies and people, who sponsor these bright-but-needy students. Since 2011, a total of 290 students were recruited to KU under this program, about 60 per year during the last few years. The placement of 87 students this year is thus a new record, about which we are elated.
As usual, we shall wait the placement results with anticipation and excitement, and we eagerly look forward to meeting and welcoming our new incoming class!
My best wishes and regards to you all,