Koç University News & Announcements Bulletin

June 2019


Dear Members of the Koç University Community,

This month of June marked two important milestones for me, one of which dates all the way back to my past, to the times when my academic career started. The other is very recent; both equally important and dear to my heart.

Let me start off with the event that takes me back to my own PhD thesis, completed at Stanford University in 1977. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket that was launched from Cape Canaveral at 02:30 am on June 25th, carried 24 different satellites into Earth orbit, 4 of which were major scientific satellite projects, including a research project that I have been working on for decades with my former group at Stanford. It was a spectacular launch under a waning crescent moonlight, one which I was lucky enough to experience first-hand at Cape Canaveral. The anticipation and wait for the launch and subsequent placement of satellites in orbit was a nail biter as there are so many parameters involved, including the unpredictability of the weather in the Atlantic coast of Florida, with intense rain and lightning occurring more often than not. At some point, we were not sure if the launch was actually going to take place due to weather and system readiness. Once the launch happened, there was the added excitement of whether the in-orbit placement of our satellite would happen without any problems. Our satellite is the largest of the 24 to be placed at the highest altitude orbit, so it had to be deployed the last, full three hours after launch. I am delighted to let you know that our satellite is now in space, precisely at the nominal eccentric orbit (apogee 12000 km, perigee 6000 km and inclination 420) that we dreamed of when we wrote our proposal back in 2001, collecting unique new scientific data on electromagnetic waves and their interactions with energetic electrons in the Earth’s radiation belts. The measurements constitute the first in-situ (i.e., in-orbit) quantitative tests of some of the ideas that were theoretically put forth in my 1977 PhD thesis.

The other milestone of the month of June is our Graduation Ceremony; it is that bittersweet time when we wave good-bye to our dear students and when they set out for their next adventure of life as grown-ups, as jobholders and ultimately as movers and shakers on the national and world stage. This year, June 22nd marked the 25th Commencement of Koç University. Each graduation may feel the same in terms of the routines we follow, but is in fact so very different in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that each time we have a brand new graduating class and their families.

Our Commencement Speaker this year, Professor Larry Kramer, gave a wonderful address, drawing from his own experiences both as an academician and a professional. His congratulatory note on Vehbi Koc Foundation's 50th anniversary coupled with his words 'Alongside the foundation’s many accomplishments, building a great university like this is a remarkable achievement, one very few philanthropists have succeeded in doing.' could not have been more apt, as we have built up a huge momentum at Koç University in our short but very fruitful 25 years. Please watch his address on our YouTube channel, as it was so inspirational for all of us.

The wonderful heartfelt address of our Chairman of the Board of Trustees Prof. Nur Yalman added much energy and zest to our already dynamic ceremony. A few thoughts that I would like to reiterate from his address: 'Our Koç University has come close to the top universities in the world and the diplomas you take with you today are more valuable than gold. Our own glorious history, deep culture and values, distilled from the oldest civilizations the world has ever seen, are what make us magnificent and rich. Do not give credit to such shallow definitions as 'underdeveloped' from western and some colonist countries as these are dated words of the 19th century. None of these countries can come close to us in terms of humanity. The single most important attribute you must possess is being kind and good to people.' I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments and I am thankful to our Chairman for underscoring them so very powerfully. Let us not forget that his words are coming from someone who has spent a good part of his life abroad, teaching and doing research at top international universities such as Harvard, Cambridge and University of Chicago. 

For the past few years, we were a bit disappointed when it came to weather on our Commencement days. However, this year we were blessed with a blazing sun and a wonderful summer day. Our ceremony was full of excited graduates and their families, enjoying our wonderful campus as they waited for their graduation ceremonies for their colleges and schools.

Last year, I started a tradition of sharing a few words of advice for the graduating class on Twitter, which also continued this year.

I would like to take this opportunity to address the Class of 2019:

  • You should be proud of your Diploma because you have achieved the goals you needed in order to graduate. However, please also be aware and proud of the wealth of personal relationships you have formed during your time here. Enjoy and cherish this moment; we shall always remember you and take pride/joy in your future endeavors.
  • Always pursue what you love so that you are successful and that your contribution to your country and humanity is the best and most extensive it can possibly be.
  • Always be uncompromisingly relentless in following your curiosity; never accept anything without filtering it with your own conscience.
  • Never walk the paths shown to you; build your own pathways so that others can follow on them.
  • Be clear and concise in expressing yourself. Use Turkish and English carefully and articulately.
  • View mistakes as opportunities to learn new things. Always be positive, constructive and modest.
  • Whatever comes your way in life; never give up your quest to pursue your passion.
  • Always include art, culture and sports in your life; do not get caught up in success and do not merely focus on your profession.
  • Always be kind, compassionate and giving toward others and never forget that your most important and lasting legacy in life is the people you work with and influence throughout your life and career.
  • May your lives be full of health, happiness, excitement and success . . .
  • My wholehearted congratulations to the class of 2019 . . . We shall never forget you, will miss you dearly and will forever be applauding your achievements . . . We wish you the best of health, happiness and success . . . 

Another annual event of great importance for us this month was our Board of Overseers meetings, held just prior to Commencement during June 19-21, 2019. This event involves the arrival on our campus of our esteemed members of the Board of Overseers for their annual review, with a detailed report in their hands about virtually every academic endeavor of the university, which was sent to them at the beginning of June. The meetings involve a detailed all-day presentation to them of our progress, successes and challenges, including extensive free discussion, followed by a second day of their meetings with delegations of individual Colleges/Schools and Graduate Institutes. During the third day, Boards of Overseers and Trustees meet together without the university administration, providing a unique opportunity for the Trustees to hear all important feedback and advice from our esteemed visitors. This year was the 26th meeting of our Board of Overseers and their advice and counsel has been our guiding light and measure of merit, contributing significantly to the development of Koç University as a global center of excellence in education and research.

Now we are onto summer, when we shall meet our new incoming class of another group of marvelous students . . .

Best wishes and regards to you all,

Umran Inan



Koç University Commencement 2019

Koç University celebrated its 25th Commencement on June 22, 2019. The class of 2019 was feted by the university community, family and friends during the Commencement Ceremonies that featured an inspiring speech by Professor Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

We congratulate the new graduates and wish them all the best…

5th International Sevgi Gönül Byzantine Studies Symposium by GABAM

The symposium “Byzantine Anatolia: Space and Communities”, focusing on the settlements and communities of Anatolia, hosted academics from diverse disciplines to share ideas and presentations showcasing a wealth of new material emerging from field studies and research in history and art history. All sessions were held at ANAMED between June 24-26.

New Exhibition from ANAMED

ANAMED organised its new exhibition, “Archival Memories: Marcell Restle's Research in Anatolia and Beyond” as a part of the "5th International Sevgi Gönül Byzantine Studies Symposium." The exhibition gives a deep insight into the research of a passionate art historian, Marcell Restle, who dedicated his life to the study of Asia Minor in Late Antique and Byzantine as well as Seljuk and Ottoman times.

Koç University Annual Report

A look back at the academic year 2018-2019, our annual report celebrates the people and the projects that have made an impact.