July 2021

In past years, the month of July usually used to be quite a busy and exciting time with the all-important undergraduate student recruitment and placement period spread out over 2 weeks. However, this year, the placement schedule is a bit different due to the long Feast of Sacrifice holidays and thus we expect to host our visitors, candidate students and families in the first half of August. Last year, the modality of these 'open days' was online, with no face-to-face interactions with our visitors and with all our presentations held online via Zoom. I am so pleased to say that this summer our entire campus is open, and we all look forward to hosting prospective students and their families once again on our beautiful campus during the first two weeks of August.

July this year has been a month of a bit of sojourn, catching up with work and a much-needed family time for me. Having the long Feast of Sacrifice holidays right in the middle of this month presented the wonderful opportunity to visit my home away from home, San Francisco Bay Area and Stanford University, where I spent more than half of my life. One of the most special things about the Feast of Sacrifice is that it makes us live the beauty of sharing with those in need, as well as with our family and loved ones. This year, having that opportunity was more special as I had not taken any time off since this awful pandemic started in March 2020. My wife and I spent about 10 days at Stanford, with my son and our two granddaughters, just staying home, doing nothing other than daily early morning walks and casual swimming.    

In my Newsletters for the past 6 years and my many social media posts, I have often reflected on the importance of research and how our University has been faring on that end. I have shared many milestones and successes and now I am quite pleased to inform you that Koç University is the leading university in Turkey with 16 successful projects and a success rate of 23% in the TÜBİTAK March 2021 Call for Basic Science 1001 Project Proposals. Ranking first in these competitions is especially meaningful, considering the fact that many of the universities that we compete with are 3 to 5 times our size in terms of number of faculty members and therefore potential applications.  

I wholeheartedly congratulate our faculty members for their success in securing these highly competitive TÜBİTAK projects that greatly enhance opportunities & potential for our university to realize its research goals, while also providing tremendous opportunities for our students.

Our progress in the European arena, in the context of the Horizon 2020 program has also been very successful. At the end of the six year long Horizon 2020 program, Koç University became the top university in Turkey and 2nd only to TÜBİTAK itself from the point of view of the number and funding level of competitively acquired projects. Over the duration of the Horizon 2020 program between 2014 and 2020, Koç University participated in 51 supported projects, serving as the conduit for a total of approximately 23.7 Million Euros of research and innovation funds brought to Turkey.

Such successes are ultimately the fruits of our endless quest to provide a free environment for education and research. At Koç University, we do not direct our students or faculty to walk down any one given path or restrict the things that they can or may do. Generally, at many institutions around the world, research paths are predefined for researchers. However, our motto at Koç University is that people produce the best and the most when they are the freest. “Let the rivers of enthusiasm, ambition and drive flow, so we can carve their course to best help our faculty and students, shape their paths accordingly,” meaning: “You are free to choose your own way and the university is here to stay out of your way and to   be there to support you when you need us.” We believe that the best research environment can be created only when researchers are free to follow their instincts; therefore, we strive to build an environment of freedom open to innovation. With this principle set at the core of our research efforts, we are destined to continue to have many more local and global opportunities and achievements.

In July, we also commemorated those who have bravely lost their lives to protect our Republic and our democracy during the coup d'état attempt against our government on July 15, 2016 and we offer our heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones and also express our respects for those brave citizens who were wounded in the course of resisting this uprising. On behalf of our entire university community, we once again strongly condemn this loathsome act against our democracy and the free will of our people.

At Koç University, we are determined to protect and preserve our republic, our democracy, our country and our future by working our hardest to capture excellence in education and in scientific research and to thereby pioneer the elevation of the standards of living of our country and our people.

My very best wishes for a healthy summer as we are gearing up for the very busy month of August ...


Umran S. Inan