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News

The 19th Vehbi Koç Award presented to Professor İlhan Tekeli

The recipient of the 19th Vehbi Koç Award, presented annually in the fields of culture, education and healthcare, respectively, by the Vehbi Koç Foundation to recognize individuals and institutions that contribute to improving people’s quality of life was Professor İlhan Tekeli. Among the three candidates that the Selection Committee, headed by Professor Zeynep Ahunbay, nominated, Vehbi Koç Foundation Board of Directors chose to recognize Professor Tekeli for his body of work on “social sciences and urban studies”. The award was in the “culture” this year and presented to Professor Tekeli by Ömer M. Koç, Chairman, Koç Holding at a ceremony on February 26, 2020.

Professor İlhan Tekeli, a prolific scholar who has received the highest number citations for his academic work on a wide array of topics from urban studies to social sciences in Turkish, has published more than 660 scientific articles and papers on urban planning, regional planning, social systems, macro-geography, local administrations, economic policies, history of economics, urban history, municipal history, educational planning, philosophy of science, and historiography. Tarih Vakfı (History Foundation) published the scientific articles of Professor Tekeli in 26 volumes, and a foundation in his name was established in February 2018 with the contributions of his former students. İlhan Tekeli Foundation conducts important studies on understanding the development and transformation of settlements, as well as on improving human rights, democracy and quality of life as integral parts of urban life, and also organizes the İlhan Tekeli Urban Studies Biennial in Ankara.

Ömer M. Koç: “Culture is one of the three fields that our Foundation focuses on.”
Ömer M. Koç, Chairman, Koç Holding, gave a speech during the award ceremony at İş Sanat Culture Center: “Our founder Vehbi Koç explained his personal philosophy about charitable activities very clearly in his “Bequest” letter, which he handed down to us. The Turkish word for bequest, vedia, derives from the Arabic verb ved, which means ‘to entrust’. When we read the ‘Bequest,’ we see that our founder embarked on this path by saying ‘the onus is on me’. Culture is one of the three fields that our Foundation focuses on. Our investments in culture began in 1980 with the opening of the Sadberk Hanım Museum, the first private museum in Turkey, and over the years spread across a wide range of institutions with the launch of VEKAM, AKMED, ANAMED, Arter and Meşher, respectively. The cultural activities of our family are not limited to the Vehbi Koç Foundation alone. Rahmi M. Koç Museums and Pera Museum also host a high number of visitors every year, and provide a wide array of cultural services to people of all ages. And, the Vehbi Koç Award, which we present in the field of culture every three years, serves as an important contribution to this field.”

“Four of the six awards we have so far presented in culture were focused on ‘cultural and historical heritage’. Since 2002, three esteemed scholars won this award as well as the Topkapı Palace Museum. We are honored and pleased to introduce these esteemed scholars, all respected and recognized worldwide, to wider audiences and to young people as exemplary figures,” said Ömer M. Koç. “I would like to underline the notion of ‘being an example to young people’ here. We are unfortunately going through difficult times both as a country and the entire world. Regional conflicts, refugee crisis and climate change on the one hand, regimes threatening democracy and human rights on the other all dampen our hopes for the future,occasionally giving rise to pessimism and concern. Many young people are struggling with the historically highest rates of unemployment in the country while many well-educated and qualified young people are also looking for ways of building a new life in other countries. But, despite all these negativities, we also have teachers who continue to work, produce, research and enlighten young people, with their eyes always firmly focused on the goal that Atatürk set as ‘reaching contemporary civilization’. We are here today to honor such a scholar with the Vehbi Koç Award.”

Professor İlhan Tekeli: “The life of Vehbi Koç and what he accomplished is a success story of the Republic.”
Professor Tekeli also spoke at the ceremony: “The fact that this award bears the name of Vehbi Koç is particularly important to me. I am very familiar with the work and projects of Vehbi Koç thanks to my studies on these topics. The life of Vehbi Koç and what he accomplished is a success story of the Republic. This is why this award feels so heartwarming to me as someone who attended the schools of the Republic and embraced its values. I salute his memory with respect.”Professor Tekeli summarized how his thought journey brought him to this destination and gave him a perspective on life, and concluded his words by saying, “At this point that I have reached, I believe that life is about striving to create, resisting when needed, carving yourself a space within the community and producing something meaningful along the way. A life of integrity can only be possible if you can live freely. This is why I constantly question how free I am in my inner world, how I keep the doors of my memory open to other views, and whether I agree with or reject external suggestions. I always strive to create new projects in order not to fall into the trap of thinking that there is nothing left for me ahead but only the past. People do and will arrive at different destinations in their search for meaning, this is what a democratic society is. I wish you all a meaningful and happy life.”

 

Professor İlhan Tekeli - Biography

Professor İlhan Tekeli (born 1937, İzmir) attended elementary and middle school in İzmir. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from İstanbul Technical University (ITU, 1960). He then went on to earn Master's degrees from METU (1964) and the University of Pennsylvania (1966), followed by a PhD from ITU (1968), all in Urban and Regional Planning. From 1970 until his retirement, he taught at METU. Professor Tekeli was a co-founder of Tarih Vakfı and served as its chairman for the first ten years of the foundation. He was also a co-founder of the Science Academy. Professor Tekeli has been recognized with numerous awards including: Mustafa Parlar Award for Excellence in Education (1999); TÜBİTAK Service Award (2006), TASAM Strategic Vision Award (2009); TMMOB Chamber of Architects, Contribution to Architecture Award (2014); Sakıp Sabancı Social Science International Research Award (2016);and the Turkish Independent Architects Association’s special jury award for his İzmirdeniz project (2019). He has served as a consultant for several institutions such as Municipalities Association and local administrations including İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and İzmit Municipalities.

İlhan Tekeli Foundation was established in February 2018 with the contributions of Professor Tekeli's former students. The foundation conducts scientific research, organizes scientific meetings, talks and gatherings, and engages in publishing, education and training activities driven by the keywords: quality of life, sustainability, participation and governance, and innovation. (http://ilhantekelivakfi.org/hakkimizda/).

For more information and full list of winners over the years, please visit the awards site.