Distinguished Teachers Honored

28 July 2020 Comments Off on Distinguished Teachers Honored

The University is pleased to announce the recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Awards for 2020. Vakur Behçet Ertürk, Halil Altay Güvenir and  Seymur Jahangirov were chosen for demonstrating outstanding teaching abilities and for contributing to students’ academic and intellectual development.

Vakur Behçet Ertürk (EE)

I am very happy and deeply honored to be one of the recipients of the Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards. First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my past and present students and my colleagues who wrote detailed support letters, without which it would not have been possible for me to receive this award. I would also like to thank our departmental teaching award committee for nominating me and preparing a nomination package. I am in addition grateful to my department and my former and current colleagues as well as some of my former professors who tremendously helped me to shape my teaching philosophy. They have set excellent examples for me, and they still continue to help me become a better teacher. Finally, special thanks to our university for creating such an excellent environment for teaching.

I feet quite comfortable during my lectures nowadays, but I remember being extremely nervous when I started to teach at Bilkent. Those first students were patient with me. They helped me to understand that teaching and learning go hand in hand. Over the years I have continuously experienced the fact that while I teach my students, I learn from them; and while they learn, they also teach. Moreover, their constructive comments and continuous support have always been the fundamental inspiration for me to be better. Therefore, I extend my appreciation to all of my past and present undergraduate and graduate students for this precious experience. Because of you, teaching has been a joy and a privilege that I am grateful for every single day.


Halil Altay Güvenir (CS)

I am very happy and deeply honored to be one of the recipients of the 2020 Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards. I would like to express my gratitude to everybody who contributed to my being given this recognition, namely my students, TAs, faculty colleagues and past teachers.

Technology has been transforming our lives at a dramatic pace. Students in the Department of Computer Engineering at Bilkent, being very clever and curious, follow the new technologies very closely. Teaching a course in computer engineering and science requires the instructor to follow these changes even more closely than the students. At the same time, the real value of a teacher in computer science lies in their ability to cultivate prospective computer scientists who can both appreciate the underlying beauty of this discipline and come up with creative new ideas when faced with unprecedented challenges. This mission has been the guiding principle in the pursuit of my academic career.

Many universities in Turkey and around the world educate and graduate computer engineers who can design a computer system, with its hardware and software, that satisfies the given constraints. In fact, with the developments in computer systems, designing such systems is becoming easier every year. A better computer engineer must know people’s needs, the effects that the system he/she is designing will have on people, and how the system can solve their problems. So, I always ask my students to be innovative.

I would like to thank my students, my colleagues and especially our departmental teaching award committee for nominating me and supporting my candidacy for this award. I would also like to thank all of my students and colleagues who prepared detailed letters of support, which made it possible for me to receive the award. Last but not least, I thank my family for their continuous love and support.


Seymur Jahangirov (UNAM)

I am humbled and thrilled to be one of the recipients of the Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards. I would like to thank Prof. Hilmi Volkan Demir, Prof. Dönüş Tuncel and the entire Bilkent–UNAM collective for nominating me and supporting me in every way possible. I also thank Prof. Oğuz Gülseren, Dr. Robin Ann Downey and all graduate and undergraduate students who supported my application.

Throughout my graduate studies at Bilkent–UNAM, I was blessed to have had several teachers and researchers who served as role models for me. I am deeply grateful for the knowledge and wisdom they shared with me and honored to take a part in passing it to the next generation.

My greatest treasures in life are my wife Naide, my son Alim and my daughter Yegane. I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for their love, care and support, and for the meaning that they give to my life.

Finally, I would like to thank my first teacher: my mother, Süreyya. She taught chemistry and biology in Azerbaijan for 35 years until retiring very recently. I remember that once she wrote a few lines of poetry for each element in the periodic table. Her unlimited passion for art and science is inherently present in my teaching in the form of emphasis on the truth–beauty ideal of John Keats:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all

          Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”