MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
As we end the year, it is a time for reflections on the past year and resolutions for the coming New Year...
December started with quite a wonderful event…. Since the inception of the Anatolian Scholarship Program in 2011, we had started and maintained a tradition of hosting dinners at our residence for the founders or heads of companies who are the donors for our program. These dinners, held in a large tent built in the garden of our residence, became a staple of our October nights every year. Each evening had become a joyous event of celebration, as our students were introduced to their donors and as we celebrated the students and expressed our gratitude to the donors for their contributions. Initially hosting these dinners was easy for my wife and myself as we could fit around a couple of tables inside our residence. However, after the marathon 8 nights of dinners with 100 people per night last year, we also started to be overwhelmed by the breadth and volume of just how big of a family we had become. We thus came up with the idea this year to bring everyone together, in one night, in one place. On December 4th, we finally did that and what a night it turned out to be.
There were over 800 guests, including our Anatolian scholars, donors and our alumni, and it was a truly great event. The sense of unity we all shared that night was just incredible. This program has turned into one big embrace―among different industries, generations, and geographies. All our donors share the same objective; all of us have the welfare of our nation at heart. Our donors contribute significant sums to this program, and yet, seeing what has become of these young people, they thank us for giving them the opportunity to be a part of this program.
During these dinners, I typically ask a few of our donors and students to say a few things. The night of December 4th was no exception and we had wonderful words from two of our donors, an alumnus and a student. What they shared with us underscores the wonderful work we do with this program in touching the hearts and minds of so many people. I cannot be prouder of our students or more grateful to our donors.
The night also presented itself with many surprises and wonders, with featured performances from our own students. Aylin Temiz and Lokman Kaya truly sang their hearts out with Turkish folk songs from various regions, including the marvellously touching story of Suzan Suzi from Diyarbakır. Murat Hoşgör, Kaan Ersoy and Selen Esmen put on great dance performances from Latin dances to Swing.
It was also particularly pleasing to have done this dinner in the year we celebrate our 25th anniversary. Anatolian Scholarship Program has become an exemplary effort and in the long run, our plans for the program are to further increase the number of students we support and to ensure the sustainability of the program. Seeing all 800 people, together and unified around this cause, makes me believe that we have set sail in the right path and my trust in our students, donors and alumni grows stronger than ever.
I would like to thank our Corporate Relations and Development team, headed by Mrs Zeynep Başak Çivi, who actually make all this happen; they are the unsung heroes of this program. They are also the family away from home for so many of our students.
Surely, we had many other accomplishments and milestones in 2018, making it quite a memorable year for the Koç University community. With an ever-increasing number of new faculty members, PhD students, externally sponsored research & development grants, and outstanding publications, our academic performance is on a steady rise. With our new Semahat and Dr. Nusret Arsel building fully operational, our interdisciplinary work is on the threshold of producing many more breakthroughs.
I cannot mention 2018 without a few words on our 25th anniversary celebrations. All 25 projects from different units, Colleges & Schools were truly unique and original experiences, deserving all the praise due and worthy of Koç University. I am truly proud to be leading this great institution, which is a beacon of light and hope for our country, and I look forward to taking it to even greater heights with the help of all of you.
I would like to conclude with a final personal note . . .My 94-year-old father passed away at 13:46 on December 15th, after five weeks in intensive care at the Koç University hospital. He lived a happy and largely quite a healthy life until his last year and raised three sons and a grandson, all of whom are Professors. He was a graduate of Pertevniyal high-school in the height of the second world war, and chose to join the military rather than attending Istanbul Technical University, like most others from that renowned high-school. He ended up serving for three years as an army officer and became a public servant at the Department of Meteorology after his discharge. He then had an opportunity to go to the United States for year-and-a-half long internship training in meteorology at different cities therein, sending my pregnant mother to stay with her parents back in Erzincan. I was born while he was away and did not see him until I was about a year old; one of the things I cherish is the truly old fashioned original Telegraph that he sent in which he named his new son.
The two most important things I learned from my father was personal sacrifice for the greater good and integrity. My parents lived on a humble public servant salary at a small two-bedroom apartment so that they can send their three sons to Ankara College, sacrificing so much for the education of their children. My father was for many years the Head of the Forecast Division at the Department of Meteorology; he is known for having beaten up and thrown out of his office the American Company Representative who offered him a bribe to obtain his authorization and approval of the purchase of a rather expensive weather radar system. In his mind, every small bit of public money was as sacred and important as his own and integrity and fairness was more important than anything else.
My family and I are greatly saddened by this loss but take comfort in the fact that he lived a good life and saw six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. I am truly grateful to all of the Medical personnel at our Koç University Hospital, who did their level best to care for and comfort my father while he was there. I thank above all, our Surgeon General Erdal Aksoy, who mobilized all resources/personnel and my Dad’s primary surgeon and Doctor Mert Erkan, who looked after him with such great unwavering intensity, attention and care. I am also grateful to all of the other Doctors, Nurses and Personnel, many of whom I now know personally and consider my friends for life. I greatly appreciate their professionalism and compassion and I am proud to be their President.
As a family, we are also greatly touched by the outpouring of emotion and condolences that we received from so many of our friends and by the hundreds of people attending his funeral and sending wreaths. We are forever grateful to them all. May God rest his soul and may heaven be forever his home.
May all of you and your families have a great New Year of 2019, full of happiness, health and success.
Best wishes and regards to you all,