In the first days of this brand-new year, we reflect on December 2021, which once again turned out to be one of our busiest months, where we were able to get together, albeit via hybrid means, combining both the intimate and exciting sentiment of face to face and online setting, on several wonderful and meaningful occasions.


We held our second General Faculty & Staff Meeting of the academic year at the start of the month. These meetings always give us an opportunity to share our long-term vision and objectives for the current year, celebrate important developments and successes of our faculty, as well as other news about the wonderful things that happen on our different campuses. As we now have done for many years at our December meetings, we also presented Outstanding Faculty Awards, celebrating the wonderful work of our faculty and their contribution to scientific research and development. This year, in recognition of their long-standing work in their respective areas from all disciplines, their robust research projects and many high impact publications, we recognized one colleague for his overall contribution with the President’s Award while presenting Outstanding Faculty Awards to twelve members of our faculty from different Colleges and Schools. We wholeheartedly congratulate all our recipients for their extraordinary research and wish them continued success.


We continued with quite a joyful event with the Koç University Seniority Awards. In its fourth year of celebrating 10, 15, 20 and 25 years, this ceremony has indeed become a special occasion for our staff and faculty. Celebrating a significant anniversary of employment at an institution marks an important milestone for both the individual and the institution. The success of our institution is very much dependent on having devoted and capable members and we wish our awardees of this year many more years at our wonderful university. We would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all those who received their respective seniorities for their commitment to this institution.


For the past few years, it has been traditional practice to summarize our research performance in the December Newsletters. This past year, even with the enormous challenge and impact of a global pandemic in 2020 and 2021, has been the best we had so far as we ran faster to new endeavors, cementing our top place as a research university in our country and our region. The pandemic naturally had a significant impact on our scientific production and publications in 2021; however, despite these difficulties, Koç University faculty, students and staff have been doing amazing work on multiple research efforts and our faculty were extensively recognized nationally and internationally for their research in 2021 -- continuing our streak of having the largest number of recipients of national and international awards and significant grants from prestigious institutions, including the European Research Council, for projects on a variety of fields.


What we have accomplished on the research front just this past month strongly confirms the above sentiments and underscores the excellence of our faculty and the solid standing of Koç University. Many of our faculty has received almost all possible national research and science awards (TÜBİTAK & TÜBA with others) back-to-back, so much so that we announced one accolade after another pretty much daily. Almost as the icing on the cake, we received outstanding news from the European Commission that Koç University received its first European Innovation Council (EIC) Grant under the European Union Horizon Europe funding program for research and innovation; Prof. Hakan Ürey and Prof. Afsun Şahin’s proposal under the “Transition Challenges” call approved with a budget of 2M EUR.


We also received great news in December about an important development that allows Koç University to receive additional government funding support, qualifying for further advantages in staff allocation, international Ph.D. education opportunities, as well as having priority on the  'TÜBİTAK 1004 Center of Excellence Support Program' calls, providing additional research and infrastructure funding to top research universities with the highest performance. With the inclusion of Foundation Universities for the first time this year, Koç University was selected as one of the three Foundation Universities, in the “Research Focused Mission Differentiation Project” of the Higher Education Council and has thus been officially recognized by the government as a “Research University”. As the top Research University in Turkey and as a  center of excellence, we are very pleased to take part in this program, especially as we are on the verge of extraordinary developments in our path towards excellence in education and research. This development thus encourages us to continue our efforts. We are very proud of and thankful for the contribution of every one of faculty members, staff and students who are the main pillars of the standing and recognition of Koç University as a Research University.


This Fall Semester we successfully conducted a term of hybrid learning and teaching. Our earlier investments in 2020 in state-of-the-art video recording technology in all our classrooms - 139 classrooms to be exact - and learning spaces to further strengthen our infrastructure and capabilities in simultaneous learning modalities and to ensure academic readiness for flexible hybrid teaching and learning have paid off beautifully. With approximately 280 lectures per day, we provided all our students the ability to follow courses taught in the classrooms while simultaneously interacting with their peers and instructors. We can safely say that this mode of teaching and learning is here to stay both during and beyond COVID-19.


On a final note, after careful consideration and deliberation, we made the important decision to convert our classes to online format for the remaining two weeks of the Fall Semester, with Final Exams also to be held online. Our campus remains fully open, with students staying in dormitories, with all research laboratories fully functioning and with all faculty and staff in their offices. By moving the classes to an online format, we simply aim to prevent the long-time exposure of students to one another in the classroom settings. Although we were the first university to convert to this modality, we are pleased to see that others are following our lead. These precautions are necessitated because even though we are at a much better place than we were compared to 2020, with higher prevalence and availability of vaccines against COVID, the pandemic is far from its end, and there is a new wave referred to as the omicron variant, across the globe, our own country and across Istanbul.


We are still cautiously optimistic about the Spring Semester; unless new guidance from the Ministry of Health and other related government authorities states otherwise, our plans for an on-schedule return to campus for the Spring Semester with campus operations and face-to-face teaching remain in place. However, we need to always keep in mind that this kind of cautious optimism should not deter us in any way from continuing to be prudent and healthy as we sail through challenging waters. In fact, we would like to remind everyone to make sure that they received their mandatory and Booster vaccine doses, if/when applicable.


We now look forward to the New Year, which not only harbors unique challenges but also offers many opportunities. As we had envisioned before, with 2022 poised to be the last bottleneck year post COVID, we are gearing for new triumphs.


As we await the end of another semester, we also extend our best regards to you all, together with our best wishes for success, good health, and much happiness.


Zeynep Gürhan Canlı

Acting President

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Umran İnan

Advisor to the Board of Trustees