MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
March is usually the harbinger of spring, with weather getting warmer, as days get longer and as we start seeing nature bloom ...This year, however, March felt like an extension of winter, with really cold winds swirling around our campus. March is also the month where our ever-busy campus starts a full string of events, filling almost each day and evening of every week until mid-May, before the final exams. My calendar is already full of many faculty and student events where I get to listen to wonderful speakers share their knowledge, enjoy various organizations and activities around our campus.
'Awareness Summit", organized by KU Volunteers - one of our longest running and most successful student clubs, was just one of such events. Even though I was scheduled to give the opening address unfortunately I was urgently called to attend another meeting and missed being a part of what I know must have been a very fruitful and successful summit. KU Volunteers Student Club, with more than 400 members, has been operating since 2001 under the Dean of Students and has been one of our university's most successful outreach programs, engaging especially with our neighborhood communities in Sarıyer. However, their reach has gone much beyond our borders to many provinces in Turkey, building libraries and computer rooms for under resourced schools, tutoring high school students to prepare for university exams and many more environment and animal protection projects. What really impresses me is the fact that this club has started 18 years ago, when volunteering and outreach to communities in need were not so much in the zeitgeist and has grown steadily every year. I thank our Office of the Dean of Students for their unfaltering support of all our student clubs.
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. As I look at the progress of the last 50 years, I am glad to see more women in the professional and academic world but I also have to sadly say that in some other ways, health, well-being and education of young girls and women, we might have regressed. I was encouraged to hear that the number of women academics in Turkey is a healthy number, more than many other countries in Europe and the US; however, the leadership still lacks the diversity as in so many other areas. On the other hand, I am glad to say that we are one of the few exceptions at Koç University where 4 of our 7 Deans are highly accomplished, prominent female academics who I am very happy to be colleagues and friends with.
Another key date in March, 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 and 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. The ceremony had a more special meaning this year as our School of Medicine (SOM) celebrates its 10th anniversary. I was happy to be a part of the celebration of our first-year SOM students on their journey to becoming doctors. For me, being a doctor could have never been in the cards as I do not have the stomach to see and work with blood but my respect for the profession is at the utmost level. In my address to prospective students and parents every summer after the university entrance exam results are announced, I always stress the importance of studying Medicine at a university with other disciplines at the highest level. Our university is the only institution in Turkey with a School of Medicine, surrounded by top notch other schools. When I go to our university hospital for a doctor’s visit, I am elated to see our students alongside with the doctors. Our SOM has gone a long way in the span of a decade, and I am certain that the next decade will bring many more successes.
Every semester, we announce 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. This tradition of celebration of learning and teaching that we started in 2012 is just one of those tools that I believe creates a benefit for both students and teachers. 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 and 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. I would like to once again take this opportunity to especially congratulate the students and faculty in these classes in which teaching/learning occurred at the highest level.
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 various events of our faculties and colleges.
Best wishes and regards to you all,