click, to go back to the contents of this issue
click, to go back to the contents of this issue

Volume 5, Number 15
25 January 1999

Click, to go back to the contents of this issue


We appreciate feedback from our readers
Browse through the collecton of older issues

Sports Center Boss Out to Change Your Life
Soccer? No problem. Tennis, badminton, and volleyball? Pick a time. How about something a bit more unusual, like fitness boxing or fencing? They've got that too. In fact, if the Main Campus Physical Education and Sports Center doesn't offer the sport or activity you want, Director Dr. Hayri Özkan and his staff will do their best to set something up for you. "We don't turn people away; we listen to their desires and needs. If we can design something for them, we do it," he says.

Why bend over backward to fit every individual's particular needs? It's an important tactic in Özkan's plan to use the Sports Center to bring positive change to the lives of students, faculty, and staff. "I don't accept the concept that sports should be used just to fill free time. I am using sports to improve the quality of life here," Özkan said. "Sports brings benefits like fitness, sharing between people, and the development of relationships. It's also the best form of preventive medicine."

Major changes

Özkan's vision of a Bilkent that values a strong body as much as a strong mind has been the driving force behind major changes in the university's physical education infrastructure.

Coming to Bilkent in the fall of 1994 after rising to the position of Senior Director of Physical Education at the Central Branch of the YMCA in the U.S. city of Wilmington, Delaware, Özkan was faced with a university that had little more than a gym, a couple of tennis courts, and a few organized sports programs. With the support of Bilkent's top administrators, over the next three years the Kayseri native with a Ph.D from Vanderbilt University (U.S.) presided over a drastic transformation in physical education programs and facilities. On the Main Campus, the gym was reroofed and completely renovated, adding 1,000 seats, an aerobic/step studio, a multi-purpose exercise room, a fitness/conditioning room, and more office space. Other changes included the construction of a mini carpet soccer field and a full size grass football field as well as the addition of an exercise studio to the Student Union building. On the East Campus an average size gym, several outdoor basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, and a mid-size grass soccer field were added.

Participation booms

With the changes, student, faculty, and staff participation skyrocketed. The number of participants in aerobic classes nearly tripled between fall 1994 and fall 1998 to 334. Tennis classes more than doubled to include 190. The number of regular classes and special sports events offered annually increased by 15. A major barrier to student participation also fell: In the fall of 1996 elective credit sports classes were approved.

Future plans

Still, Bilkent's physical education program is a work in progress. "With the current facilities, we cannot reach our goal of even greater participation," Özkan said. The key to attracting people to a healthy lifestyle is having them experience the benefits first-hand, according to Özkan. That means facilities must be available during convenient hours when people are motivated to exercise - most often between between 4 and 9 p.m. and on weekends. "That's why it's so important that we complete our new Main Campus sports complex, hopefully in 1999," he said.

The walls of the huge new facility, behind the PTT near the dormitories, are up, and once it is complete it will include a walking track, fitness/conditioning room, two aerobic/step and dance studios, two gyms, three squash courts, multi-purpose exercise rooms, locker rooms and cafeteria.


Özkan would like some help from Bilkent's faculties. Some departments do not accept sports electives for credit and some mark students who participate in inter-university competition absent when they miss class to attend a tournament.

"As teachers and administrators we have to accept the fact that sports must be a lifestyle and must be a balanced part of the lives of those we educate," Özkan said. "With our new complex and some help from our faculties we can become number one in sports services among all Turkish universities."

Spring Registration Under Way

Registration for Spring sports will take place at the Main Campus Physical Education and Sports Center between Monday, January 25, and Sunday, February 7.

For more information, call ext. 1651, 1325, or 1993.

Click, to go back to the contents of this issue

Bilkent News Welcomes Feedback From Readers.
This newsletter will print letters received from readers.
Please submit your letters to
or to the Communications Unit, Engineering Building, room EG-23, ext. 1487.
The Editorial Board will review the letters and print according to available space.