This newsletter is unfortunately one of the most somber communiqués from the Office of the President . . . We are still reeling from the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit southwestern Türkiye, on that horrible morning of February 6th, and we have been in mourning and deep sorrow as a nation since then.

We all have been struggling with a mix of feelings of guilt, desperation, and hopelessness, heartened by a glimpse of joy popping here and there to the news of the rescued . . . We are deeply saddened by the tens of thousands of losses, overwhelmed by their scale and we extend our deeply felt condolences to the families of all those affected. We are all devastated by the huge number of people so very badly injured and cannot yet fathom the extent at which so many lives are affected for so many years to come.

All our thoughts continue to be with the millions of affected people in the region, including those who are among our own Koç University Community.

We have been utterly shaken by the news of the untimely passing away of three of our students, Berk Satar from the Molecular Biology and Genetics Department, Nursima Sarıgül from the Computer Engineering Department and Muhammed Gedemenli from International Relations Department. These students, who loved our university, studied with great enthusiasm, and had great goals, were beautiful young people who represented the best values of Anatolia. May they rest in peace in Heaven . . .

We have also had losses from immediate family members of our community. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Gizem Akçakaya from Facilities Directorate, Derya Deniz Özdemir from KUTTAM and Emine Ayça Nalbantoğlu from School of Medicine in their time of unimaginable sorrow.

It is at least some consolation to know that Office of the Dean of Students has reached 783 students residing in the affected areas including neighboring countries, and that a majority are accounted safe, including international students. All our students in the affected areas have now left the region and moved to other cities. We continue to closely follow up on their health, general condition and other needs in cooperation with Koç Group and all related public and government authorities.

We also have safely accounted for 87 members of our faculty and staff who are in the affected region.

Through the efforts of our Emergency Operations Task Force and in collaboration with Koç Group and all related public and government authorities, we were able to reach some of our students who have lost their homes, have had injuries and in need of many other items and we continue to provide as much earthquake relief support as possible at this time.

Thanks to our very hard-working students and members of our staff, materials were collected in hundreds of boxes and two trucks left for Hatay in the first few days after the earthquake.

A team of fifteen of our medical staff from our Koç University Hospital were deployed to the region with medical equipment and there are currently earthquake victims under treatment at our hospital.

Six members of our Research and Rescue team (KUAK) went to Hatay to help earthquake rescue efforts. They were also able to reach some of our affected students and provide support in person in the area.

Our counseling and support team (KURES) started counseling programs for all our community.

A few among our students have already started free classes to prepare high school students from affected regions for the YKS (University Entrance Exam) and 263 of our alumni through the Alumni Mentorship Program signed up to be mentors for our students from these areas.

As the news and images of the catastrophe have brought us immense grief, we have once again been reminded of the importance of earthquake preparedness, and we can safely say that we are at a good place regarding the resilience status of our campus buildings against an earthquake and other efforts for disaster management at our university. Please see the message from our Office of Secretary General for further details.

February 25th also marks the 27th 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. In a time when many of our people grapple with the extraordinary challenges nowadays, the vision of our Founder especially for our university is so much more relevant as he very aptly stated that fulfilling our responsibilities for current and future generations is a principle we champion and are to never forsake.

The Turkish saying 'Başın Sağolsun' translates to ‘Condolences’ in English. However, its meaning bears more than an expression of sympathy; the first word 'baş' in Anatolia means 'scar, wound'. The second word 'Sağolsun' is of 'sağalsın', meaning 'get better, heal'. So, what we say to people who lost a loved one is 'may your wounds heal.' Our wounds as Türkiye are so very deep but as we have done many times over, we shall certainly prevail as a nation, once again.

Our work as Koç University community starts now, as this healing of the wounds and rebuilding is to be a long journey for many of us.

Let us conclude on a more hopeful note . . . Spring semester is now on its
way . . . We have our plans in place for the start of the semester. As for the past 30 years, we are determined to continue to provide the best education to our students and to push the boundaries of scientific research, for the future of our country.