The Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards for 2017, announced last month, are being presented to the recipients on graduation day. Prof. Nail Akar, Dr. Kumru Arapgirlioğlu and Prof. Hande Yaman Paternotte were chosen for demonstrating outstanding teaching abilities and for contributing to students’ academic and intellectual development.
Distinguished Teaching Award recipients’ statements.
Nail Akar (EE)
The research efforts of university professors generally have immediate returns in the form of funded research projects, publications, promotions, etc., which are inherently stimulative. On the other hand, teaching also requires great effort but has intangible returns, especially in the short term. Consequently, instructors need encouragement and appreciation from students, colleagues, administrators, etc. to stay motivated to teach effectively.
The Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Award is therefore very important in the sense that it emphasizes the value placed on education at Bilkent University and is also a means to show appreciation of good teaching. As one among many deserving faculty members and instructors, I am very fortunate and honored to receive the prestigious Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Award this year. With this award, I feel reenergized to continue to try to raise the thresholds set by students for their own performances, so that they can survive and prosper in the very competitive field of engineering.
I would first like to thank all the students and colleagues who wrote detailed support letters, without which it would not have been possible for me to receive the award. In my own education, I was extremely fortunate to have fantastic teachers, most of whom are currently at Bilkent, who helped shape my teaching philosophy and style, again without whom I would not be where I am today. I would like to express my gratitude to them. Finally, I would also like to thank the departmental teaching award committee for nominating me and subsequently preparing a nomination package for me.
Kumru Arapgirlioğlu (LAUD)
I am deeply honored and happy to receive one of the 2017 Bilkent University Distinguished Teaching Awards. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this process – by nominating me, by helping me put together the nomination file, by writing excellent support letters and by uttering encouraging words. This award has given me an opportunity, after so many years, to reflect on teaching design and to question myself not only as a teacher but as a person and a scholar as well.
Along the way of my journey of teaching, I benefited from association with several groups and received inspiration from a number of distinguished people, to whom I am grateful: the Ankara University Mülkiye, the Science and Scientific Philosophy Circle (BILFEL) and the UNESCO Bioethics Committee; Prof. Ruşen Keleş, Prof. Yaman Örs and Prof. Meral Özgüç. During this journey, while my background provided me with expertise on cities, technical knowledge, and a familiarity with professional life, the above-mentioned societies and people shaped my philosophy of teaching, deepened my knowledge, and gave me confidence and a wide-ranging perspective on human–environment relationships. Questioning my teaching philosophy shed light on an issue I deem to be very important: even though what one knows and how much one knows are important, teaching does not end there. It is also about communicating and reaching out to young people with respect, trust, a consistent attitude, some flexibility with regard to individual situations and empathy toward differences. Through the years, passing on the knowledge, both theoretical and practical, and integrating everything with a view toward developing an ethical attitude, both professionally and environmentally, has become my goal.
As a final statement, I would like to acknowledge all my dear colleagues in the Department of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, including Barış Eyikan Kılınç, who have taught me to embrace teaching as well as different perspectives by creating a richly interdisciplinary and collaborative culture.
Hande Yaman Paternotte (IE)
I am very happy and honored to receive this Distinguished Teaching Award. I would like to thank all my students and colleagues – with special thanks to our department chair, Prof. Selim Aktürk – for nominating and supporting me. I have been a member of the Department of Industrial Engineering as a student, as a teaching assistant and as a faculty member. When I started teaching, I had very little intuition about the learning process. As a first guide, I tried to remember the time when I was a student, a time of challenge as well as pleasure, for I realized that learning can be difficult but also very rewarding. Second, I have been taught by the best teachers, who have set excellent examples for me; today as my colleagues, they continue to help me become a better teacher. Despite these two invaluable sources of inspiration, it has remained a challenge for me to learn how to teach, and I have made a lot of mistakes. I am very happy to have this opportunity to thank my students for their patience and for their constructive comments and support. I have been very lucky to teach the subjects that I like the most. I enjoy talking with young people about my research topics, and I feel very excited whenever they come back to share their own experiences concerning these topics. I have also been extremely lucky to work with outstanding teaching assistants. I am very proud that some of them have become excellent teachers themselves. I would like to thank all my past and present students for this precious experience, and I remain grateful to my university for making it possible.