The tale of building a student dormitory at METU in the words of Vehbi Koç...
I believe that for students to be successful, they must have comfortable living conditions and I loved seeing the benefits provided by the first student dormitory I built in Ankara. I had known the Middle East Technical University president, Kemal Kurdaş, for a long time. After he became president, he initiated numerous innovations and new works at the university. At the same time, he got involved with building student dormitories and sent a letter explaining the university's need for dormitories to a number of business people. This letter came to me on January 24, 1967 and summarized the work at METU as follows:
“It would be a great pleasure for all of us at the university to see you among us so you can witness the work here in person. Within four years, the university has achieved an intake of 4,600 students, increased the academic staff to over 500 and expanded the Middle East Technical University campus to include over 40 buildings and facilities with 13 million trees. Currently, our 1,150 male students live in two buildings built by the university and our 138 female students are being housed in rented apartments in the city. In order to meet the needs of the year ahead, we need to build a new dormitory for 1,000 students. Since we cannot meet this requirement from our own budget, we believe that the needs of our students can be met with donations and help from valued and benevolent citizens and institutions like yourselves: people who believe that higher education and technology is a vital part of our national life.”
I was touched by this letter. I met with Kurdaş and he sent the project to me right away. It was beautifully planned. Once I had studied it, I agreed to build the dormitory. At that time, I was in London receiving treatment after I broke my shoulder falling off a horse. So I wrote to Hulki Alisbah asking him to inform Kemal Kurdaş of my decision on March 3, 1967:
“I'm getting old. On February 23, I could have died from my accident, God forbade. The Dormitory Act and Foundation Act, for some reason or other, is dragging on and on. While I still have the strength, I want to do a few things. I have no doubt you will do whatever you can do, and may God help you.”
Hulki Alisbah and my son, Rahmi Koç, communicated my wishes to the Middle East Technical University. The Board of Trustees approved the decision, and on May 5, 1967, the dormitory's foundations were laid. The building was completed sooner than I expected, and so it was opened for students on February 12, 1968, in the second semester of the 1967-68 academic year. There were studies and lounges inside. Just as in the dormitory at Ankara University, a plaque was erected bearing my words:
“Helping to nurture young people is a debt owed to both humanity and the nation. For this reason, it was my happy duty to help with the student dormitory. I owe my gratitude to all those who sacrificed their labor and help, making my contribution even more valuable. What I expect from those who stay here is that, in return for the sacrifices that have been made for them, they study as mature and well-informed individuals. I believe that students from neighboring countries will remember the friendships and affection experienced here for as long as they live, and if they share it with their own countries and acquaintances, it will also be good for world peace.
Young people, this building was built for you, for you and future generations. I wish respect and success to all of you.”
The building was named the “Vehbi Koç Student Dormitory.” After anarchist movements gained hold in 1968, one student died in front of the building during clashes between students and security forces. In 1969, the "Vehbi Koç Student Dormitory" plaque was removed and replaced with the plaque, "Pirinçoğlu Dormitory," in memory of the dead student.
Vehbi Koç, Hayat Hikâyem, 4. Bas., Vehbi Koç Vakfı Yayınları, İstanbul, 1983, s. 118-19