We Wish You a Successful New Academic Year

METU Northern Cyprus Campus President
Prof. Dr. Nazife Baykal’s
Opening Address of the 2017-2018 Academic Year

Welcome to the 13th academic year opening ceremony of Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus!

Today, we are filled with pride as we leave twelve years behind with successful graduates, innovative projects and research activities focusing on social issues. I sincerely thank each of you for being part of this special day.

With its innovative and participatory culture that embraces universal human values and transparency, Middle East Technical University has been a standard-setting institution in the academic sphere since it was founded in 1956. Middle East Technical University, which has signed countless firsts, has developed its profile as an entrepreneurial university over the years, devoted its resources to make the world a better place, and earned respect worldwide.

With this deeply-rooted heritage we are in the thirteenth year of our journey to increase the quality of higher education in Northern Cyprus and to develop solutions through academic resources to meet the needs of the Island. With the strength we have derived from the METU tradition and with our commitment to Northern Cyprus, we are happy and proud to have worked hard to successfully fulfill the tasks defined by the constitutional law of the University, to carry on with the projects that will bring value to Northern Cyprus, and to work tirelessly to integrate with the Island.

METU Northern Cyprus Campus has produced 1,624 graduates so far. The achievements gained by our graduates living in various countries fill us with pride. In addition to their career accomplishments, our graduates continue to build METU's tradition of success in academics by pursuing post-graduate studies at prestigious universities of the world. Since its establishment, the principle of "excellence in education" has become embedded in the organizational culture of METU Cyprus. The Campus increased the number of its undergraduate and graduate programs and enriched its programs with highly qualified researchers with a strong academic background. While increasing the number of students from Turkey and Northern Cyprus coming to the Campus to study, we continued to work to attract more international students wishing to receive a quality education. The METU NCC researchers aimed not only to make a contribution to scientific knowledge of universal value through the research activities they carried out but also to utilize science to develop effective solutions for the problems of the region. Activities organized by the student-led clubs and societies that are formed by our devoted students promoted social interaction among students and developed new ways of using the resources of the University for the needs of the region. Last year we initiated work to improve our institutional culture through participation. Within the framework of that project, we move towards a structure that embraces all components of the Campus and that provides various possibilities for our staff members to be involved in the administrative processes.

We completed our strategic plan covering the period 2018-2022 with a dedicated team work. I would like to thank our staff members who devoted time to serve on various committees established within the framework of the planning process and who used their resources to plan a better future for our campus.

Our gains of 12 years encourage us and give us enthusiasm to initiate new projects that will maintain the METU tradition and to put them into practice as soon as possible using the resources of the Campus. As we begin our thirteenth academic year at the Campus, we are getting prepared to take steps towards greater initiatives in the fields of education, research and community services, feeling the responsibility of being a member of the METU community.

As we begin a new academic year, I want to take this opportunity to inform you on the developments that have taken place at our campus in the fields of education, research and social service, which are the main areas of responsibility of universities.

Indeed,we are witnessing the beginning of a new era in the field of education at METU Northern Cyprus Campus. Starting from the 2017-2018 academic year, our campus admits students on scholarship basis only under all quotas. Through the 2017 Student Selection and Placement System, where we have only 50%, 75% and 100% scholarship quotas, students were placed in 94% of all the quota and our campus was preferred more by students with higher scores. We are pleased with the growing popularity of METU Northern Cyprus Campus. We have improved the research capacity of our campus by increasing the number of our graduate programs to five. Parallel to this progress, we also keep working to open new undergraduate and graduate programs. As the Campus reached international performance standards, we rapidly started the accreditation process for our undergraduate programs. Our staff members work to their full capacity and energy to ensure that the accreditation work for the undergraduate programs that meet the criteria will be completed within the next academic years.

The new academic block, for which we laid the foundation stone in May, is another infrastructure project that is worth mentioning. The tender process for the academic block project, which has been designed meticulously on the basis of the needs of our students and academicians, has been completed. The construction of the new academic block will begin in the forthcoming days and it will be available for use at the beginning of the academic year 2018-2019.

Based on the 61 years of expertise gained by METU in the field of education, we strive to further improve the research and development activities on our campus. The tender process for the construction of Kalkanlı Technology Valley, the first technology valley of Northern Cyprus for which we laid the foundation stone in May, will be completed on October 23, 2017. Kalkanlı Technology Valley, which is a pioneering step of the breakthrough for the development powered by technology-driven production in Northern Cyprus, has been approved by the Council of Ministers as a technology development zone. I am very happy to share this good news. May it bring our campus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus success!

KALTEV will transform the appeal of Northern Cyprus for researchers and entrepreneurs into a center of attraction for the development of innovative technologies. With KALTEV, we we will bring together all stakeholders -the universities, the Chamber of Industry, entrepreneurial businesses, the Ministry of Economy and Energy, researchers and students- for an economy empowered by entrepreneurship and science production, and we will be guided by the synergy arising from collaboration. The work for the legal regulations that will enable us to use all of KALTEV's facilities to benefit Northern Cyprus continues rapidly. We believe that the relevant legislation will come up promptly following the opening of the Northern Cyprus Assembly of the Republic on Monday. Dear President of the Assembly of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Dear Minister; we need your support concerning this issue. We look forward to your support that will pave the way for KALTEV and for Northern Cyprus.

We did not wait for the completion of the construction process to move our research and development work to the next dimension with KALTEV. We made our first two project calls in the past academic year to convert entrepreneurial ideas into value-added products and to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem on our island. The first KALTEV project call attracted great attention from METU researchers. Within the scope of this call, the researchers developed ambitious projects that bring stakeholders together for an economy that is entrepreneurial, that generates added value through output, and that finds strength in interdisciplinary trends. The work of these remarkable projects, which will be among the ‘firsts’ of KALTEV, is carried out rapidly by our researchers. The second KALTEV project call for METU researchers will be announced in the forthcoming days.

The ‘Think, Try, Transform’ (T3) program that we initiated last year in KALTEV to develop an  entrepreneurial ecosystem enriched with the ideas and energy of university students had also attracted great interest from students and those with challenging ideas competed fiercely to be selected as finalists. I am very happy to announce that this program is open to all university students pursuing their education in Northern Cyprus as of this year. The second call for projects from the ‘Think, Try, Transform’ program, which will be announced soon, will enable all young people living in Northern Cyprus to use the opportunities made available at KALTEV to convert their creative ideas into value-added products. In addition to the academic support they will need to develop their products, we will also offer mentoring and marketing skills training to students who participate in this program, which offers an opportunity to introduce KALTEV to the community. Thus, the facilities of KALTEV will be made available to all individuals and community groups living in Northern Cyprus and will be used to stimulate the economy of the Island even before the construction was completed.

We are opening a new phase in our sustainability studies, to which we have attached special emphasis since the day the Campus was established. The METU NCC Sustainability Center (SürMer) has been created. This center will enable researchers working in the field of sustainability to collaborate with the researchers from all over the world and make our campus the center of sustainability studies in Northern Cyprus. The first METU Inter-Campus Workshop on Sustainability will take place on our campus as an activity organized by SürMer. The purpose of this workshop is to ensure that academicians conducting research on sustainability at the METU campuses exchange ideas and expertise.

The Green Brain of the Year International Project Competition, which we initiated six years ago with a special focus on sustainability, continues to attract great attention. Students from a wide spectrum of countries competed in high school and university categories and the winners will receive their awards this evening. I would like to congratulate all student teams who developed innovative projects for a better world. Thank you.

Community service activities are among the responsibilities of universities that should not be ignored. METU has an institutional culture that cares about community service work and uses the resources of the University for the needs of the community. Our campus also continues its comunity service activities with the strength it has derived from METU’s corporate culture.

So far, we have produced projects to interact with the community, integrate the Campus with the community, create new points of contact, and develop solutions for the social needs of the community using the resources of our campus. The project titled Kalkanlı Culture Square, which we look forward to putting into practice soon, will be the new focus of our studies in this area. With its educational halls and exhibition centers, educational support and life areas accessible to the disabled, children's parks and entertainment areas, worship and sports areas, and commercial areas, the Kalkanlı Culture Square will provide better educational, arts and entertainment facilities for local people. It will be a center of attraction not only for those living in Kalkanlı but also for everyone living in Northern Cyprus. We are about to come to the end of the projecting phase of Kalkanlı Culture Square. We expect this project to enable us to create new points of contact with the community and to bring a new dimension to our existing communication capacity. The establishment phase of the Continuing Education Center, which will serve as another point of contact between the Campus and community, is also about to come to the end. We attach great importance to the METU Northern Cyprus Continuing Education Center and Kalkanlı Culture Square, which will enable us to respond to the educational needs of the Northern Cyprus with the resources of our campus, and to transfer science to people.

METU spirit requires constant progress and tireless work; it requires a full mobilization to create change, transformation and difference. It is with this spirit that we have attained our goals so far and have created new projects that give us enthusiasm. We are thrilled with each project that we put into practice in order to make use of our academic resources for the problems of the people living in Northern Cyprus, to mobilize to improve living conditions and to create new areas of development on the Island. I am very proud that the promises I made during the opening ceremony of the 2016-2017 academic year have been fulfilled and the plans I shared with you have been implemented. I also wish to state our promise once again, as I stand here in your presence, that our campus will always work for the better.

Needless to say, we need to benefit greatly from the support of and collaboration with various institutions in order to be able to successfully implement great projects. Now I would like to express my gratitude to the authorities who supported and encouraged us with every initiative, especially with the Kalkanlı Technology Valley and Kalkanlı Culture Square projects. I am grateful for the contributions of His Excellency, Mr. Mustafa Akıncı, the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the relevant government members and other officials of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

In the Republic of Turkey, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Cyprus Affairs gives us great support to implement our projects. We owe a debt of gratitude to His Excellency, Prof. Dr. Recep Akdağ, the new Deputy Prime Minister, and his predecessor, and Mr. Tuğrul Biltekin, the Principal Consultant in charge of Cyprus Affairs. We have always felt the support of Prof. Dr. Mustafa Verşan Kök, our Rector, and the Campus and University administrative boards. Thank you. However, let me express our gratitude to His Excellency, Mr. Derya Kanbay, the Turkish Ambassador to the Nicosia, and all staff members of the Embassy, the Office of Development and Economic Cooperation in particular. The support of our embassy gives us the strength to initiate such comprehensive projects. Thank you!

Let me address the new METU students before I end my speech.

Dear Young METUans,

You all are welcome to METU Northern Cyprus Campus. I would like to congratulate you on your success in your educational life so far. Now you are young members of a progressive, entrepreneurial and respected family. During your time at this campus, you will not only have a profession but also the culture and spirit of METU. The METU family is comprised of individuals who have the capacity to change the world. Please keep believing in yourself and never give up. Love to learn, love to know, wonder and explore. Our campus, which hosts 250 academicians and 3,400 students coming from nearly 50 countries, offers countless new experiences. Be active participants of the multicultural environment of the Campus and be open to new knowledge and perspectives.

Our university has taken its place among the world's respectable higher education institutions with its accomplishments in a variety of areas. As you feel the pride of being part of a great tradition, always remember that being a METUan requires confidence, effort and dedication. You are the individuals who have the capacity to create change, to transform life, and to make a difference. During your time at METU Northern Cyprus Campus, express your ideas freely; discuss, but do not conflict; respect different opinions and ideas. Own the culture and spirit of METU.

Remember, "The world needs more METU graduates!" and "We can change the world!"

Thank you for joining us today to share the excitement we feel at the start of a new academic year. It is the sincere effort of our staff members that made it possible for all of these projects to be put forward and initiated. I wholeheartedly thank all members of our staff, who function to their full capacity to help the Campus proceed rapidly.

I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to each of you and wish you all health, success and happiness in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Prof. Dr. Nazife Baykal
Campus President