Although April on our beautiful campus is always truly special, this year with an unseasonably cold March, spring came a bit later with the cherry tree (‘Prunus serrulata’ or ‘Sakura’) blossoms finally displaying their beauty in full and with the rest of nature waking up. As days get warmer and the end of the academic year nears, our community finally seems to be infused with the energy of spring.

Great news was in abundance this month, which came as a relief after grim months of calls for caution with negative outlooks on the progress of the pandemic and its effects on our lives. Koç University and our faculty were recipients of considerable project support funds from TÜBİTAK. Back in December, 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”. This important development meant that our university would 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. As an example of what we might expect to achieve in such competitions, Koç University has once again received the largest number of projects (9 out of 31) in the Scientific & Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) 2247-A National Leader Researchers Program 2021, strongly underscoring the extraordinary success of our researchers. Koç University also received the largest number of projects (6 out of 31) in the TÜBİTAK 2236 Co-Funded Brain Circulation Scheme Fellowship Program.

As always in April, we celebrated the National Sovereignty and Children's Holiday, a most meaningful gift to the children of our country by the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, also marking the founding of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on April 23, 1920. Any celebration, especially one that involves children, is a cause for joy. Atatürk's own words add so much more meaning to this special day:

“Little ladies, little gentlemen! You are all a rose, a star, and a beacon of light for the future. You are actually the ones to smother the country in light. Think about how important and valuable you are and work accordingly. We expect a lot from you.”

After a 2-year hiatus, one of the important traditions of Koç University, the annual 8-man rowing race between Koç University and Kadir Has University, also took place on April 23rd. This tradition was initiated to emulate the traditional annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities that was started back in 1829, and it is so nice to see that we are back in the waters of the Golden Horn with this wonderful event which also is an opportunity to celebrate sportsmanship.

This April was also the month during which all of us teaching/learning/working were finally liberated from the increasingly uncomfortable restrictions on our lives necessitated by the pandemic. With our flexibility, patience and resilience, we were able to successfully continue our mission of education and research, but not without a heavy toll on the psychology of all of us, faculty, students and staff alike. With mask mandates lifted, it is safe to say that the pandemic is finally at a more manageable state, where all indoor and outdoor activities can safely happen. This piece of good news coupled with the Ramadan Bayram holidays gave everyone a nice break.

Now, there is so much more to look forward to in May, with our fantastic student performance clubs starting to exhibit their performances in the Sevgi Gönül Auditorium and with the upcoming Spring Festival, finally taking place on the College Green with exciting musical performances, all promising so much fun and cheers…