On the morning of 31 May 1996, the foundations of the Rumelifeneri Campus were laid. Three years later, in November 1999, on a cold fall day, government dignitaries, guests, faculty members, İstinye Campus graduates and all Koç University students who gathered in the Koç University Campus experienced the excitement. More than seven years had passed between the opening of the İstinye Campus and the start of operations at the Rumelifeneri Campus, and dreams had finally become reality.
President Prof. Dr. Seha Tiniç, who had also spoken at the opening ceremony of the İstinye Campus in 1993, restated the purpose of the establishment of Koç University: “creating a ‘center of excellence’ which contributes to science at the universal level and which trains individuals who have adopted Atatürk’s principles, who are equipped with up-to-date knowledge in their field, who have knowledge about the world, who can think freely and strategically, who are creative, self-confident, with developed leadership skills, who can compete anyplace in the world.”
Following the ceremonial speeches, among applauses ribbons tied across the Portal of Knowledge were cut, which Mozhan Khadem, the architect of the Rumelifeneri Campus had qualified as “the Threshold of the East and the West.”
As we began the 2000-2001 academic year in the new campus, we forgot all our troubles. Our dream had become a reality. Gifting our country with a modern university that can compete with world universities is the return for our eleven-year effort.
The introduction to Koç University’s Feasibility Report stating its “mission,” reflected the vision expressed in a single sentence by Atatürk himself in the first years of the Republic, “To raise generations who are free in thought, free in knowledge, free in conscience.”
“The mission of Koç University is to train world class students who are creative, who can think independently and objectively, who have leadership skills and who conduct scientific research in Turkey in the beginning of the 21st century. Educational programs will raise individuals who have internalized their own culture and who are open to the cultures of the world, knowledgeable individuals. Koç University will actualize the best in terms of higher education in Turkey in the broad sense, and will provide to its students not only quality knowledge but also opportunities for personal development. In addition, it will establish the best educational traditions in Turkey, and become an exemplary educational and research institution, a role model for other universities…”
Koç University’s educational philosophy and practical applications have been shaped by these basic goals without compromise and have lived on to date in the same direction.
Student focused approach
At Koç University, every aspect from academic programs to the architectural design were different to the traditional understanding. The adopted approach focused on “what kind of a student, what kind of a graduate?” rather than “what kind of a school?” According to the feasibility Report, Koç University,
Twenty-four years have elapsed since 1993’s “first lesson” in İstinye Campus. Today, Koç University feels rightfully proud of its elite graduates with leadership qualities who have reached respected positions everywhere in the country, its universal education and its illustrious academic staff who has earned respect through their scientific output. With its institutional mission, educational philosophy, students, faculty and research programs, it is an exemplary education institution in Turkey and is esteemed throughout the world.
We embarked upon this adventure with the belief that high quality educational institutions are the most precious investments that can be made for the future of the country. I hope that the readers can appreciate under what circumstances and conditions the Koç University project was made real. On behalf of the Koç Family, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Koç Group and University, I would like to thank those who graciously supported us; all public institutions; all officials who cleared our path through their decisions and acts; and everyone who contributed officially and voluntary—and in some cases involuntary—capacity to our effort to bestow to our country and to the world such a center of excellence which found life through Vehbi Koç’s material and spiritual leadership.