The month of February often presents a paradox of sorts. On the one hand, it signals the end of winter, while on the other hand, it is also the month in which our Spring semester starts. This winter felt like it was colder than previous ones, and we did have quite a bit of snow in that one week in January, but we missed out on snow during February this year, which was rather mild weatherwise.

The first two weeks of our Spring Semester started online, as planned, with the intention to help minimize mobility inside the campus and interpersonal contact, aiming to reduce the number of cases and rate of infection on our campus. Although COVID-19 is still very much in our lives, we feel so much more optimistic than we did this time last year where the future seemed so much bleaker and uncertain. We hope and expect that sooner now than later, we may be able to have a phased resumption of more outdoor and in-person activities throughout the month of March before the Spring Break, even if COVID-19 may remain with us at some level for some time.

The month started with the opening of a highly critical and important center, "Clinical Trials Unit" at our Koç University Hospital. At both national and international levels, the center aims to provide the highest quality environment for clinical research. Critical in the advancement in health care, clinical trials are essential to the development of new solutions that help people live healthier and better lives. The establishment of such a technologically equipped clinical trials unit in our country provides development opportunities not only for Koç University, but also for all clinical researchers nationwide.

February 11th gave us the opportunity to not only celebrate International Day of Women & Girls in Science, but also congratulate everyone who makes a difference for a brighter future and a better world through science. According to UN Women, globally, only 33 per cent of researchers are women, and they are awarded less research funding than men, and are less likely to be promoted at academic institutions. Our numbers do fare much better that the global average; our approach is based on meritocracy and the research output are equally impressive both from our female and male researchers. Our female researcher ratio is around 41% and almost half (%46) are full Professors. Furthermore, no less than five of our seven Deans are women.

Science is all for and by humankind so a celebration of science only for women might feel contradictory. Nevertheless, we hope and expect that this acknowledgement may push more women and girls into science so that society can reap the benefits of their full potential. Let us then sincerely wish of reaching the days where we no longer acknowledge or recognize just women and girls in science but instead hail for all scientists, every day, every year, without a gender label. Sustainability of science requires transferring knowledge to new generations, men and women alike. Please see more insights from some of our own women scientists.

On a much sadder note, we are all deeply shocked by the untimely passing away of Dr. Paul Farmer, who was the recipient of Honorary Doctorate in Medicine from our University and our Commencement Speaker this past June at our combined 2020/2021 Graduation Ceremonies. Dr. Farmer was a truly great person who devoted his life to the betterment of the lives of others. It was our highest honor to have him address our graduates this past June . . .
We shall cherish that moment forever, may he rest in peace in Heaven.

The month ended with an important remembrance and celebration on February 25th marking the 26th anniversary of the passing away of the Founder of our university, the late Vehbi Koç. He was at the same time an incredibly successful business leader, an outstanding philanthropist and a visionary person who, above all else, loved and believed in his country. His generosity was perhaps manifested best in his first and possibly greatest work which was building the Ankara Numune Hospital, where he later deemed this project as the most difficult but also the most rewarding. In a time when we grapple with the challenges of human health worldwide, the endeavors of our Founder in this very area have much more value. The Vehbi Koç Award, given by the Vehbi Koç Foundation to commemorate him and remember his legacy, was presented this year in ‘Health’ category in an online ceremony. The recipient this year is Prof. İvet Bahar from University of Pittsburgh, who is also a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Prof. Bahar, with her studies and research in computational molecular and systems biology, paved the way for the development of pharmacological products that save millions of lives today. She has been a friend of our University and has served on the Board of Koç University Rahmi M. Koç Medal of Science 2020 so we were especially pleased to see a familiar face this year.

Introduction to the award ceremony was partly shot at our state-of-the-art Koç University Hospital, very aptly presented by one of our School of Medicine students. Having gone to the hospital on many occasions and naturally for health reasons, seeing it presented in this different narrative made us all realize how impressive of an endeavor it has been to establish our Hospital and seeing it come to its full capacity as a top medical institution and a research hub gives us a lot of hope for the future of our University and indeed our country.

Let us conclude our newsletter with February palindromes! Last time we had something similar was in 2020 with the numerically written version of February 2nd, 2020, i.e., 02022020. And this year, we had many more with February 22, 2022, i.e., 2/22/22 with Twosday also on a Tuesday. See if you can spot more of these this month as well! Let these be the harbinger of many more marvels to come in 2022.

For now, as we very much look forward to the new semester, please do continue to be prudent and remain healthy.


Zeynep Gürhan Canlı

Acting President

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Umran İnan

Advisor to the Board of Trustees