MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Members of the Koç University Community,
Time flies faster than any of us can keep up with. As I find myself saying this each year, here we are again in January, amazingly of 2020, a year which such a short time ago looked to be so far in the future... Just another example of which is suggested by research, namely that time is perceived to pass by so fast because we have so much to do and not enough time in which to do everything.
As January once again marks the beginning of the year for all of us, we are filled with a certain contentment as it also marks the end of the Fall Semester, with a 2 to 3-week Semester Break. Students, faculty & staff anticipate the semester break during which some of us take vacations to spend a quieter time with loved ones while others grab it as a great opportunity to catch up with research, projects and other things that are harder to do in the midst of regular classes during the busy semester.
This year, I spent most of the Semester Break at Stanford University in Palo Alto, working with my colleagues at Stanford on our satellite project. Nearly 6 months after the launch of the DSX satellite by the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in June, marvelous new scientific data is coming down from the Spacecraft, on electromagnetic waves and energetic particles in the Earth’s radiation belts. After having spent years conceiving the experiment and building the instruments and nearly ten years of waiting for a launch, it is incredibly satisfying to view this data and to work with my colleagues on its interpretation and scientific papers reporting the results. Palo Alto is where I spent most of my adult life (no less than 36 years!) before taking on the Presidency at Koç University and the trip was also an opportunity to visit with my son and two granddaughters.
On a much sadder note, January 21st was the fourth anniversary of the untimely passing away of the late Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman of the Board of Koç Holding. Mustafa Bey was always an unrelenting, unconditional and generous supporter of our university... The development and growth of Koç Holding under his leadership provided the financial resources that drove the rapid development of our university in the last decade. We shall always remember him with respect and deep affection. May he forever rest in peace in heaven.
Sprinkled in the year ahead shall be those precious times when we are filled with pride and joy because of the successes of our faculty and students. If 2020 is anything like the last few years, our faculty members shall continue to break new records in publishing outstanding papers, securing new sponsored research grants and receiving new awards and recognitions, cementing our position even further as one of the top research universities in Turkey and the region. Talking about research, I have published my second op-ed on LinkedIn about Research as an Engine of the Future. Please do take a look and I look forward to hearing your thoughts...
One of the most significant endeavors for our University this year is the founding of a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Center, in partnership with İş Bank, one of the oldest and most established banks in Turkey, founded by Atatürk himself. We are quite excited about the work of this research center as AI definitely has become an integral part of our everyday lives and will undoubtedly continue to have major social and economic impact.
Another new initiative, Koç University Giving Week, which we started back in October last year, shall continue for a second round in the spring, creating 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.
Activities of our very vibrant and energetic student clubs, including wonderful stage performances, business seminars, many talks and sports events have already filled up my calendar for the whole semester and I cannot wait to experience each and every one of them.
Personally, I am also looking forward to starting 2020 by teaching my ELEC206/PHYS302: Electromagnetism course, as I do every Spring Semester. I greatly enjoy my classroom dialogue with typically 75 to 80 students, teaching and learning electromagnetic theory using my own textbook. For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than being in class, responding to the curiosities of and interacting with bright young students.
Like in previous years, we shall say goodbye in June to 1200 BS-BA/MS-MA/PhD students graduating and welcome the 1000+ new undergraduates and close to 200 new MS/MA or PhD students who will join us this coming September. The undergraduates would be coming from among literally the brightest (top 5%) of all high school graduates, and they would bring to our campus new ideas, drive and enthusiasm. Our new graduate students as the engines of knowledge generation would also be internationally selected from among the best and help us move our research university to newer heights.
I would also like to reflect a bit on the fact that 2020 also marks the start of a new decade. I am always asked about the future of work, what professions will be popular in the future, what new areas are emerging, what our world might look like. I do not have a magic ball where I can see the future; however, past few years have so significantly shown us that the intersection of disciplines is likely to bear the greatest innovations that are destined to dramatically change the way we live. Many of the developments with the highest social impact in the next 10 to 30 years are expected to undoubtedly take place in the areas of the overlap of medicine, engineering, law, natural, social and administrative sciences. If the last decade was any indicator, the pace of technology is likely to continue to further advance all things in our lives and with our ever increasing presence on social media channels, we are to continue to fervently share information, learn new things and comment on a slew of topics.
Our mission, thus bestowed upon us by our founders more than 26 years ago, to cultivate well-rounded individuals, who can think creatively, independently and objectively, will remain the same and we will consistently strive to advance knowledge and to serve Turkey and humanity. Upon all these reflections, our path as an institution is crystal clear for 2020 as it was in recent years; the best way to live and honor the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the founder our institution, Vehbi Koç, is to do our level best to raise the standards in our country and our region, to set an example of outstanding excellence in education, and generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge. With clarity of thought and purpose, we shall strive to do so with passion and with unrelenting perseverance.
My best wishes and regards to you all,