Vehbi Koç, who started his working life in 1917 in his father’s Ankara business, was in the front ranks during the industrialization and the modernization leap of the newborn Republic, and assumed a leadership role in the economic history of his country. The Koç Group, which he founded in 1926 is today rapidly becoming a global power; during his 95-year life he created an institution which became the pride of the nation. In addition to his unequalled contribution to the industrial development of his country, he also conducted charity work “with pleasure, because it is a duty towards humanity and towards the nation.” To build the bright Turkey of the future, he made exemplary contributions to society through his various initiatives in education, health, culture and arts.
During a visit to the United States in 1946, the young businessman Vehbi Koç was quite impressed with the education and health related investments that civil foundations undertook for the benefit of the public. Before he returned to his country, he committed these observations that opened new horizons to his memory, “for use when the time comes,”
Vehbi Bey was a keen observer. He made mental notes on issues he saw and found interesting. Though he made little mention of these afterwards, he never forgot them. Years later, he would bring these up as new projects..
The Maltepe student dorm built in 1951 and later handed over to Ankara University became the first example of the kind of social initiative that had been on Vehbi Koç’s mind since his travel to the United States. His words, “Capital is found, machines are acquired, technology is transferred; however, without well-trained labor it is difficult to achieve results” were the first manifestations of future projects taking shape in his mind.
While his business investments continued from 1960 onwards, he was convinced that institutionalizing his charity work under the aegis of a foundation was the ideal solution for ensuring its continuation after him. Established in 1969, The Vehbi Koç Foundation achieved many significant social investments in education, culture and health.
The Maltepe student dorm and the foundation of the Türk Eğitim Vakfı (1967) under Vehbi Koç’s leadership with contributions from 205 benefactors, were followed by the establishment of the Vehbi Koç Foundation. This meant that countless student dorms, education parks and libraries received support.
While the Foundation’s work was gaining momentum, the idea of establishing a university was blooming in Vehbi Koç’s mind. In a speech he delivered in 1984 in Eskişehir, he alluded to his belief that a civilized future was only possible through well-educated generations. These were thoughts from the mind of an individual who personally took part in the establishment of the Republic, “We need to educate our youth as best as we can so that we can catch up with the developed countries of the modern world and be prepared for the future.”
Industrial firms are also a kind of human investment, as they are institutions that provide a living to people and contribute to the economy... However, a university is an institution which trains people directly for the benefit of society and Vehbi Koç’s heart was in this. From the very beginning, he himself was its biggest supporter...
Before long, Vehbi Koç initiated idea exchanges with people whose opinions he valued. He set out to establish an exemplary university of international quality.
Before deciding on an issue, he would thoroughly study it on his own, and then he would consult others whose opinions he valued. This was not enough, he would order a solid research. He never neglected to consult individuals who had proven and distinguished themselves on a specific field...