Vehbi Koç: “Let’s not forget that it’s possible to pray under a tree. But teaching and scientific research are impossible without buildings, books, materials and equipment.”
The year was 1963. I was invited to a seminar organized by the Economic and Social Studies Conference Board at the Çınar Hotel in Yeşilköy, Istanbul. One of those attending was Professor Orhan Oğuz, head of the Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences, who I met at the cocktail party on the first day of the seminar. This passionate, young professor told me he was teaching in the academy’s scattered rented buildings in Eskişehir and that his students were having to attend lessons in these difficult circumstances, roaming from place to place. When I opened the branch of Koç Teşkilatı in Eskişehir fifteen years earlier, I had said that I would serve Eskişehir in other ways. I promised Professor Orhan Oğuz that I would donate 1.5 million lira for a new building for the Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences.
Meetings began with the relevant ministries and went on for a good while. Just at that time, Professor Orhan Oğuz managed to secure the necessary aid from the government, so construction began on the academy buildings. Professor Oğuz came to remind me about the support I had promised and asked me to build a library in the area allocated for the academy. I agreed, the library was built, and on October 21, 1968, it was formally opened at a ceremony attended by President Cevdet Sunay. In the speech I gave at the ceremony, I expressed my thoughts on education:
“If we look at advanced countries, we can see that well-educated people are working in every field and that talented, skilled people rise through the ranks of management. Our country has to develop quickly too, so it is vital that, as soon as possible, our country seriously focuses on training young people capable of working in a variety of fields. People take time to develop. Take a child who starts elementary school at seven years of age: if he continues his education in the normal manner, completing his higher education and then military service, he will not be productive until the age of 30. That’s why these facilities have been established, so that our young people can work hard and have a proper education.”
Vehbi Koç, Hayat Hikâyem (My Life Story), 4th ed., Vehbi Koç Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, 1983, pp. 117-18