Distinguished Teachers Honored

28 June 2019 Comments Off on Distinguished Teachers Honored

The Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards for 2019 are being presented to the recipients on graduation day. Prof. Tolga Mete Duman, Instructor Hatice Karaca, Prof. Ekmel Özbay and Prof. Özcan Öztürk were chosen for demonstrating outstanding teaching abilities and for contributing to students’ academic and intellectual development.


Distinguished Teaching Award recipients’ statements.

Tolga Mete Duman (EE)

I am humbled and thrilled to be one of the recipients of the 2019 Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards. As a graduate of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, I highly value this recognition, and am deeply honored to join the select group of faculty members who have received this award.

I was extremely fortunate to learn from outstanding professors during my undergraduate years at Bilkent University and graduate studies at Northeastern University; I am deeply grateful to them all, for without their dedication to teaching and education I would not be where I am today. I have also learned a lot from my students and colleagues at Bilkent University and Arizona State University throughout my years in academia, and am delighted to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with future generations.

I would like to thank the EE Department for nominating me for the award, and my students and colleagues both at Bilkent University and Arizona State University for writing detailed letters to support my nomination. I am also grateful to my family, especially my wife Dilek for her love and support, and my late father Etem Duman and my mother Yurdagül Duman for the emphasis and value they always placed on education, which guided me on a path toward a highly rewarding academic career.

I derive immense pleasure in seeing my students develop and succeed in their careers, and become leaders in their fields. I feel blessed that I can contribute to their journeys, and I hope to continue teaching bright young minds for years to come.


Hatice Karaca (LAUD)

I am extremely happy and honored to receive a 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone, in particular to my students and colleagues, who helped me shape my teaching philosophy; and also to our dean, Prof. Erdal Erel, to our department chair, Assoc. Prof. Bülent Batuman, and to the Faculty Committee for nominating and fully supporting me.

This award has given me the opportunity to look at both the past and the present in reflecting on my motivation for teaching. Recalling my primary motivation, it was, and still is, just about instincts, intuitions and attachment. I have always believed that teaching is about mutual “respect” and “consistency,” especially in design education. Students coming from different cultures and backgrounds are extremely varied in their motivations and their ways of seeing the world. Therefore understanding students’ expectations, creating a suitable environment for an interactive and collaborative learning process, and also providing an atmosphere of confidence, in which you lead students to believe in themselves and become more creative, is a vital part of my teaching role, since I believe that design learning and teaching concretize in this way. Being part of a small department has turned into an opportunity for me as a teacher, since I have had the chance to follow students from their first year until their graduation, to become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, and to get to know their interests and abilities. Through this experience, I have had the chance to customize my pedagogical approach according to each student and student group, while not jeopardizing the course contents or my expectations. By touching students’ lives, by pushing, challenging, teaching and inspiring them, I am extremely happy to see that students have appreciated my approach to design education. I feel profoundly proud of my students.


Ekmel Özbay (PHYS/EE/UNAM)

I am very happy and deeply honored to receive a Distinguished Teaching Award for the 2018–2019 academic year. I would like to thank my students, my colleagues and especially our department chair, Prof. Oğuz Gülseren, for nominating me and supporting my candidacy for this award. I would also like to thank all the students and colleagues who prepared detailed letters of support, which made it possible for me to receive this award.

I came to Bilkent University as a young assistant professor at the end of 1994, and I have been teaching at Bilkent since then. Throughout these years, the main motivation behind my lectures has been to prepare and deliver courses that will help students understand the basic science and technologies related to the topics of these courses. Although it has been more than 24 years since I gave my first lecture at Bilkent, I still feel excited before the start of every lecture. I always prepare before the lecture hour, writing down and solving the new quiz, going over the course material and deciding on the random pickup questions that I will be asking during my lecture.

I also use my courses as a medium where students can learn to become professional engineers, academics, etc. by displaying the etiquette and behavior that will be expected from them in their future careers. It is always a pleasure to meet with my ex-students and listen to their stories about how their interaction with me in my classes influenced them in shaping their own professional lives. This unique positive feeling gives me satisfaction and motivation in my endeavors to further refine my teaching skills in my new and future courses.


Özcan Öztürk (CS)

I am extremely honored and very happy to be receiving one of the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Awards. I would like to thank my students and colleagues for nominating and supporting me. I am grateful for this recognition because it is such a prestigious award for me.

I would first like to thank the many students who wrote extremely nice letters of support. I am fortunate to have had, and continue to have, some of the best students, so if I have contributed in even a small way to their great and varied successes, I am very proud and humbled. I believe that the teaching endeavor turns into an effective and fruitful learning activity on the students’ side only when the instructor can look through their eyes and make them feel that they are the real actors, not just the audience, in a class. Second, from my own experience as a student, I also believe that students should be treated with respect, trust and empathy. However, sitting on the other side of the table as an instructor, achieving these goals in the rapidly advancing computer engineering field is not really an easy task. Thus, I very much value and appreciate student feedback on these aspects and hope to continuously improve.

I would like to acknowledge all my dear colleagues in the Department of Computer Engineering, who have provided a collaborative culture and a peaceful and productive environment that encourages excellence in teaching. Especially, I would like to thank the departmental teaching award committee for nominating me and putting the nomination package together. Finally, I thank my family for their continuous love and support.