MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
This year, we had our first collective vacation during August 20 to August 30 when we allowed all academic and administrative staff to unplug for a few days to rest our minds and bodies, which after an unprecedented period, was much needed and deserved by us all. With quite a few of us still quite busy getting ready for the new semester and with our mobile devices forever connected to us, it was still hard for most to completely isolate themselves from the University, and from the goings on around the world. Nevertheless, we hope many of our faculty and staff were able to get some rest and peace of mind.
Our undergraduate recruitment period continued after the Feast of Sacrifice Holidays well into the first half of August, with all our students, Deans, Faculty Members available online every day. Even though we were deprived of the personal touch of face to face interaction, we were still able to respond to and interact with our candidate students. One positive aspect of this entirely online rendezvous was the fact that most of our online participants were the candidates themselves. We do not know if they had their families and friends with them during our online meetings, but most questions seemed to come from the candidates, which is what we always want anyway. In previous years, we would have excited and worried parents more often take it upon themselves to ask off-the-beat questions, even as the students sitting right next to them were obviously embarrassed by the exchange. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see that this online means of getting together allowed the student candidates to be more in charge, asking questions with parents possibly listening on the side.
Another aspect of these recruitment periods that I enjoyed every year is my one on one conversations with candidate students, which I used to have in my office, usually with their parents present. This year, naturally, was different and I felt like a broken record where I spoke and uttered basically the same things to close to 90 candidate students -- double the number than previous years -- either online or on the phone, averaging 15 minutes with each. I am also very pleased to know that close to half of the students I spoke are now Koç University students. During my conversations with them, I always advise that they follow their hearts and their passion and choose wisely since university education is not only what you get academically but socially as well. This dimension of university life is at least as important as the academic one, given the fact that most of close and life long lasting friendships are formed during high school and college years; therefore, university life is a crucial period of their journey to adulthood and spending those years in the right place would be one of their best life decisions. Realizing fully that most of the students I speak may not come to Koç University for one reason or another, I nevertheless hope that my conversations might help and guide them in their selections.
The undergraduate placement results for 2020 were recently announced, and I am pleased to inform you that our university has captured an outstanding student profile. All of our announced quota of 1233 students across all of our departments has been filled and the number and percentage of students from higher rankings have significantly leaped compared to 2019. Rankings of 34% of the students placed are in top 5,000, 44% are in top 10,000, 53% are in top 20,000, 72% are in top 50,000, 84% are in top 100,000 and 95% are in top 200,000. Koç University shall continue its leadership position among universities in our country by hosting this outstanding student profile.
Our other excitement during these recruitment periods is the selection of the Anatolian scholarship students who come from far corners of our beautiful country and who are quite successful in the national placement exam but are ranked just below the lowest rankings of placement at our university with full scholarship. This year, we were able to select a record number of 176 students from among 6.032 applications from Anatolia. In a year where we could not meet face-to-face with our existing donors or find the opportunity to get together with prospect donors, we were still able to talk and converse about our wonderful program online and in writing and generated enough interest to bring in that many students from 57 provinces, surpassing all of our targets, about which we are elated.
We are very grateful to our donors, both companies and people, who sponsor these bright-but-needy students. Since 2011, a total of 782 students were placed at Koç University under this program and the placement of 176 students this year is thus an amazing accomplishment. The program has now acquired a truly national character, with a total number of 278 sponsoring companies supporting 782 students! Our alumni classes continue to provide enough funding to support their existing 20 students. I thank our alumni for their generous and continued support despite the challenging economic situation in our country and hope to see growing participation on their part in this program.
I cannot help but think that as the majority of our new students are to graduate in 2025, we may be offering the most meaningful gift to our Republic at the beginning of its second centennial. I am certain that we shall be forever proud of all our new students as they develop to be the leaders of our tomorrows.
As the month of August came to an end, we celebrated August 30th Victory Day, giving us a chance to once again remember the sacred importance of the Republic that has been entrusted to us by Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK. Exactly 98 years ago on August 30, our brave soldiers marched to decisive victory, chanting “Independence or Death“, with the Final Offensive at Dumlupınar, where the Earth meets the Sky, ending our War of Independence and laying the foundations of the modern Turkish Republic.
September is already here and promises to be busier than ever, as we get ready to open our campus after more than a six-month hiatus. When we started to gradually open our campus to a select and limited group of researchers back in June, I stated that closing our University was much easier than reopening it. Reopening to the entire student population is immersed in a myriad of so many uncertainties, unknowns, what ifs and if nots which makes the entire operation much more daunting and an extraordinary undertaking. Under the leadership of our 'Return to Campus Task Force’, many teams from various units, departments and schools continue to work diligently on finalizing the details of our return to our Rumelifeneri campus.
There needs to be notable adjustments and changes for students, faculty and staff when we return to our campus for Fall 2020. We look forward to having many communications with detailed information about coexistence with COVID-19 principles, health and safety protocols throughout the month of September.
I would like to re-emphasize that our plans strictly depend on the development of the pandemic in the coming weeks and that they are incumbent upon new guidance from the Ministry of Health and other related government authorities. With our own health experts, we are monitoring the current situation quite closely, evaluating each step with due diligence and allowing ourselves as much flexibility as possible so that if circumstances change, we can adapt swiftly and decisively.
As usual, we still eagerly look forward to meeting and welcoming our new incoming class, faculty and staff members across the range of Colleges & Schools & Units. Even though we expect our campus to be dramatically different with a fewer number of people at any given time, we aim to continue our traditions of welcoming the coming academic year of 2020-2021.
My very best wishes for a healthy month of September...