MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Our Newsletter this month marks the third anniversary of this tradition of monthly Newsletters that we started back in October 2016. At the time, starting it on the month where we celebrate the birthday of our university was not really on my mind; I simply wanted to communicate more often with our Koç University constituency and community via different channels and the Newsletter was a new means that we wanted to use.
Right at the beginning of the month, we celebrated the 26th anniversary of the founding of our university as a result of the brilliant foresight of the late Vehbi Koç, signified by his ‘opening lecture’ delivered on October 4th, 1993. I would like to take this opportunity to express our wholehearted gratitude to Mr. Vehbi Koç, who bestowed upon our country and the world at large this great institution, driven by his deep held belief that “The more we educate quality people, the more we serve our country”. On behalf of all of you, I would also like to express our deeply held appreciation and thanks to the Vehbi Koç Foundation, and the Koç family, for their unrelenting and extensive support of our university for the past 26 years.
In his opening lecture, Vehbi Koç underscored the importance that he attached to education by saying: “My address to you now is your first lecture and is symbolic. As the founder of this university, I want to pass on to you things that I have found important during my 70 years of education in ‘the university of life’. People learn things continuously day in and day out; the education of those who are open to new things and learning never ends during their lifetime…”
Last year, we were lucky to witness an unforgettable ‘25th Year Lecture’ by the Honorary Chairman of our Board, Rahmi M. Koç. Exactly 25 years after the visionary 'First Lecture' of the late Vehbi Koç, Rahmi M. Koç’s address on ‘esteem’ (‘itibar’) not only continued that great legacy but was inspirational, humorous, thought provoking and timely, all at the same time. Please see a video of these 2 generations, delivering their lectures.
The duty thus bestowed upon us by our founder is to protect and preserve this institution as a center of excellence and as a symbol of progress and to always work hard to raise it to new heights.
Koç University has realized many great achievements in its 26 years that have not only enriched our university but also our country. This unique institution has now emerged as a beacon of excellence representing one of the best faces of our nation abroad. As a member of our community, I am truly proud of our achievements so far and greatly excited about the new heights that we shall climb and the challenges we shall overcome in the coming years.
As I had mentioned in my previous newsletters, this year marked an important milestone as Vehbi Koç Foundation (VKV) celebrates its 50th anniversary. The motto that the Foundation has embraced in celebrating its centennial, ‘the onus is on us' (‘üstümüze vazife’), is just so very fitting to this unique Foundation that is second-to-none in Turkey and our region. VKV very recently launched a series of videos from its stakeholders, some of whom are quite familiar to us, each one telling an inspiring story of the impact of this wonderful foundation on education, culture, and healthcare. I urge you to take a look at these videos.
Vehbi Koç Foundation truly transformed and changed Turkey on so many levels, under the leadership of first Suna Kıraç and then Semahat Arsel who only think of the well-being of our country. Myself and my colleagues at the university administration are the current custodians of the generous resources provided to us and we are motivated and driven by the charge our Founder has given to us to use the resources of the Foundation as effectively, as frugally and as impactfully as possible. Thus, in a year where we celebrate the philanthropic legacy of an institution, we were pleased to open our Koç University Center for Civil Society and Philanthropy Research, to conduct research, educational and professional development activities aimed to contribute to the development of civil society and philanthropy. As I stated in my remarks at the opening ceremony, I would like to once again extend my sincere thanks to Semahat Arsel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of our Foundation for giving us this opportunity.
In my September newsletter, I had announced our new initiative, namely the Koç University Giving Week, which took place between October 14th and the 21st. I am pleased to let you know that for our first foray into this new tradition, we did rather well, collecting more than 50,000 TL from 78 participants, 23 of whom being new donors. The Giving Week was a great opportunity for our alumni, students, faculty and staff, and friends from all over the world to come together and give back to our great institution and it sure was a great start. I thank all who have donated and look forward to much more engagement until the end of our school year in June 2020.
This month I found myself talking about our university to several audiences. I was invited by our own alumni Albert Krespin to the Chartered Financial Analyst Istanbul Charter's Gala Dinner as a keynote speaker. Addressing an audience of 250 top financial professionals representing more than 50 countries in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, I talked about the huge potential and opportunities Turkey offers to businesses, partly due to our premium location where east literally meets west but also due to our young population especially with young leaders at the helms of many businesses. In such addresses, I do like drawing parallels to our very own Koç University, a very young institution at only 26 years, with already many accomplishments under its belt, offering great infrastructure, education, research opportunities, equal to many established universities in Europe and the US. Our faculty comes here for the real challenge because we provide them a free environment and let them be, to allow them find their own paths.
On October 24th, I was one of the speakers at a panel of University Presidents organized at the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. The topic of discussion was a question: How your university has injected innovation into your research in social impact areas? While the other Presidents made presentations with many slides documenting all of their programs, I was pleased to emphasize the only thing that we really do, which is to hire the best faculty, bring them together with the best students, and then get out of their way . . . Just create the freest environment for great things to be done by great people. Please see more of our discussion.
We ended October by celebrating the 96th anniversary of the founding of our Republic, the very reason for our existence as a nation and as a country. This year I was in New York on October 29th and celebrated this important day at the reception organized therein by the Consul General of Turkey in New York Honorable Alper Aktaş and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations of the Republic of Turkey Honorable Feridun Sinirlioğlu. Recognizing that universities such as ours are among the most important institutions of our Republic, we embrace the legacy of our founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk by continuing to strive for excellence in learning, teaching, and scientific research, so as to make leading and defining contributions to the development and enlightenment of our country and our society.
On October 30th, I attended the Memorial Ceremony at Harvard Memorial Church for the late Professor John H. McArthur, former Dean of the Harvard Business School and longtime member of our Board of Overseers. With nearly a thousand people in attendance, I was one of four speakers at the request of his dear wife Natty McArthur. He was truly a great man whose life has had a major impact on so many people, including his mentorship of the development of Koç University during the past 15 years. May God Bless his soul and may he forever rest in peace at Heaven.
My best wishes and regards to you all,