MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
The month of September, as the harbinger of Autumn, brings with it a sense of melancholy and a bit of the blues to some, as the vibrant summer season comes to a close. For me, though, it is one of the best times of the year on campus as we not only welcome the beautiful manifestations of the fall season in Istanbul and at our campus with its wonderful colors, but also welcome and embrace more than 1000 new undergraduates, hundreds of new MA/MS/PhD students and tens of new faculty and staff joining our Koç University community.
We held our Orientation during the week of September 9, where we introduced our school to newcomers. I was delighted to be able to address our new students at ODEON, as mother nature very generously gifted us with a bright sun that day. ODEON, one of the landmarks of our beautiful campus, has been stage to many performances and I am always happy to embrace our new students ancient style in this amphitheater.
Here are a few thoughts reflecting upon my meeting with the new undergraduate Class of 2023, which I shared with them in my welcoming address:
Our most basic premise is that people produce the best and the most when they are the freest. We thus strive to hire the best faculty, recruit the best students and then create/maintain the freest environment in which they can be the most productive, creative and successful. In this context, it is important that we do not limit ourselves by our preconceived rights/wrongs, and unnecessary central rules/regulations, but rather simply let great things happen by ‘getting out of the way’. We want our students and faculty to strive to find and pursue what feels right for them, to embark on their journey without fear, as the only way to find your true self is to listen to your inner voice.
We see university education as a rendezvous, or an appointment if you will, between generations. My colleagues and I work hard to make this appointment as exciting, informative, fulfilling and productive as possible for our students. We strive to learn/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.
The transition from ages 18 to 22 for our undergraduates is key to self-discovery and sets the foundation of who they are to be and how they will setup their lives; it is the period of life where one begins to realize likes, dislikes and compromises.
I also make note of the importance of writing and speaking well both in English and Turkish. I wholeheartedly urge our students to take English preparation classes very seriously and not to see it as a waste of time. A strong foundation in the English language will not only help our students thrive in their classes but help express themselves so much better.
Being a Koç University student also puts upon a great responsibility on your shoulders. In order for us to improve our great school, we need your feedback and your participation, so that together we can make this institution the best that it can be. I ask our students to see their university journey as a walk through a pipeline; they get in from one end when they first enter the University campus and get out from the other end when they graduate. What happens in between through that pipeline is up to them...All the good things that they experience make us very pleased and proud, but we also want very much to hear about those things that do not work out as they should for our students. So please give us feedback, write to us, email us, complain or praise but always share your thoughts.
After an exciting Orientation Week, the school year started at full force on September 16th with several of us in the university administration paying our respects to our founder, the late Mr. Vehbi Koç, by visiting his gravesite. Every year as we do so, I feel intense admiration and appreciation and I am overwhelmed with a great sense of responsibility of the amazing gift that he has bestowed upon our nation in founding our University, which his Family and Foundation continue to support so very generously. We must always remember our solemn duty to pursue excellence in education and scientific research, as our institution is truly unique and above all, serves and exists as a beacon of hope for our country, as an example for others to follow.
September is the ‘back to school’ month, not only for new faculty, students and staff but also for alumni. Homecoming has become a great tradition for our alumni to get together on our wonderful campus and reminisce their time at our university. Homecoming on September 8th was again a beautiful celebration where our graduates, growing in numbers each year, enjoyed the activities, food kiosks and later a concert. We also held the ‘Time Capsule’ ceremony for the class of 2019. The commemorative ‘Time Capsules’, prepared for each graduate class and placed on the concrete ledge surrounding the ‘College Green’ grass area, hold all kinds of memorabilia from each class and its contents are photographed and exhibited on the project web page. This tradition is definitely garnering the attention we had hoped for and shall continue to embrace all of our alumni, past, present and future for many more years to come.
In terms of new traditions, we are launching another initiative, namely the Koç University Giving Week which will kick off on October 14th and end on the 21st. Giving Week is a weeklong online fundraising drive for alumni, students, faculty and staff, and friends from all over the world to come together to give back to our great institution which in turn will help us elevate this unique place to greater heights. More details about this initiative will soon follow but please do stay tuned. . .
Let me conclude with a highly fruitful meeting to which I was invited to as a guest speaker, at the 3rd National Polar Sciences Workshop at my alma mater, Middle Eastern Technical University. As a part of the Antarctic Scientific Research and Science Base Project supported by the Turkish Republic Presidency and the Ministry of Industry and Technology, National Polar Science Workshops are now organized every year at which the scientific projects, studies and expeditions carried out by Turkish scientists are evaluated. During my times at Stanford University, I had done extensive research in Antarctica and had always wanted Turkey to also have a scientific presence in this fantastic continent. I am thus greatly pleased to now see Turkey setting up a base on Antarctica last February, and to observe the accelerating research efforts of Turkish scientists there. Attending this workshop as a guest speaker was thus a great honor and sharing my own experiences with them was indeed a special treat.
May this Academic Year be full of health, happiness and success for all of us . . .
My best wishes and regards to you all,