This January marks the second time where we start the calendar year with a whole slew of uncertainties and unknowns. We are definitely cautiously optimistic for 2022, with projections from very prominent global names that the end of the pandemic might actually be near.


These last two years have certainly not been conventional to say the least...However, in the midst of this chaos, certain things naturally do stay the same, as we all make an effort to preserve them. However, it is also true that most other things do change, often considerably from year to year. One aspect of the beginning of the year that never changes is the fact that it always brings with it a sentiment of renewal, new energy, an eagerness and anticipation of many more new things to come.


The Fall 2021 semester first and foremost gave all of us the opportunity to see truly how our hybrid modal of teaching and learning works. Having our infrastructure in place and making necessary modifications and changes as needs arose, we have improved our system during the course of the semester. We had envisioned that this modality was here to stay and seeing that we have been quite prepared made us all proud and pleased. We do realize, however, that this is a constant and continuous process where we frequently seek feedback from both our faculty and students and work with our community to improve our teaching and learning environment. We had also projected that we might be forced to have intermittent closedowns due to the development of the pandemic and even though we had to switch to online for a short period during the remainder of the Fall Semester and the first 2 weeks of the Spring Semester to minimize mobility inside the campus and interpersonal contact, aiming to reduce the number of cases and rate of infection on our campus, we can safely say that we have gone through these challenging times quite unscathed. Given what the rest of the world is going through right now with cases surging to the millions, it is a blessing that we were able to still operate as well as we could and continued to successfully navigate through this new model of education and completed the Fall 2021 Semester.


Nevertheless, having reached this point does not take away from the stress and exhaustion of our current circumstances for all of us or lessen the remaining challenges of teaching and learning that lie ahead of us. Let us also take pride in all we have accomplished despite these unprecedented challenges at the end of the semester and the calendar year. We received back-to-back wonderful news on the research front from the European Commission.


Asst. Prof. Levent Beker, of our Mechanical Engineering Department, has been awarded with the ERC (European Research Council) Starting Grant for his project to develop a device that is to predict the risk of heart disease. The device called 2ND-CHANCE, a first innovation of its kind, is to detect the symptoms of heart disease and warn the patients before they reach a critical level. His project "Development of Wireless and Biodegradable Implants for Continuous Cardiac Measurement" is to be supported with 2.5 Million Euros for five years. With this addition, Koç University realizes a new record of having received 19 out of 32 ERC grants awarded to Turkish universities. Out of these 19 grants, 13 are on the field of engineering, 4 are from social sciences and humanities, and 2 are on molecular biology and genetics.


Another fantastic news came from our College of Engineering and School of Medicine where Prof. Hakan Ürey and Prof. Afsun Şahin received the first European Innovation Council (EIC) Grant at Koç University, under EU’s Horizon Europe funding program for research and innovation, which is a successor to the Horizon 2020 program. We are also one of the only two universities in Turkey to have been awarded under this program.


The project, "Cataract Simulator Diagnostics Device Development Using Computational Holographic Displays", uses computational holography, which controls phase, size and shape of the light beam entering through the eye-pupil and develops a holographic vision simulator for cataract patients. This system is to be the first cataract simulator for in-vivo testing of multifocal intraocular lens (IOL). Prof. Hakan Ürey and Prof. Afsun Şahin’s proposal submitted to the European Innovation Council (EIC) “Transition Challenges” call has been approved with a budget of 2 Million Euros.


The excellent research environment at Koç University, our competent and exceptional faculty profile, coupled with the importance given to interdisciplinary studies serve as significant pillars for securing these prestigious grants awarded by leading sponsors in Europe amidst very tough European-wide competitions.


What is more important is that since the foundation of our School of Medicine followed by our Koç University Hospital, a top priority of our University has been to integrate both our School and Hospital with the rest of our University. As we have seen firsthand the true contribution of collaboration and multidisciplinary work with the fast-paced solutions for COVID-19, these projects rise from the same fundamental thinking and synergy, and they are great examples of how a research university works and should work. We are thus extremely pleased to see these efforts come to fruition.


At the start of the year, we are looking forward to the many precious times which are to be sprinkled in the year where we are to be filled with pride and joy because of the successes of our faculty and students. Our faculty members shall undoubtedly continue to break new records this year 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.


These thoughts also bring us to our Vehbi Koç Foundation (VKV), which is celebrating its 52nd year as a unique foundation that is second-to-none in Turkey and our region. Their unwavering support, in a year like no other full of financial challenges, shows us how lucky we are to be a part of such a strong entity. We, at the university administration, as the current custodians of the generous resources provided to us are thankful and are motivated and driven by the charge our Founder has given to us to continue to use the resources of the Foundation as effectively, frugally, meaningfully and impactfully as possible.


On a much sadder note, January 21st was the sixth 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. Our Honorary Chairman Rahmi M. Koç, had these words after his passing: “From now on, our duty is to keep his name alive by protecting his principles and continuing to walk in his path.” His approach to life, his vision is summarized here. As we mourn his passing and shall always remember him with respect and deep affection, please take inspiration from a man who had to leave us so very soon.


As we look ahead to the start of the Spring 2022 Semester, we anticipate that spring months are surely poised to bring more momentum and that we may hopefully be able to enjoy ourselves with more outdoor and even face to face activities.


We wish all of you a relaxing and enjoyable Semester Break...


Zeynep Gürhan Canlı

Acting President

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Umran İnan

Advisor to the Board of Trustees