Forty years already since my graduation in 1979 from the Department of Economics at the Middle East Technical University (METU).
Forty years, a long enough time to reflect on how my years at METU in general, and at the Department of Economics in particular shaped and oriented my life.
I remember very vividly the first time I ever saw and fell in love with the campus on a summer morning as, upon being successful at the entrance examinations, I had arrived from İstanbul for registration at the university.
The years that followed changed the course of my life in many ways, positive of course. I, as much as anybody else, benefited highly from an atmosphere in the university and in the Economics Department that promoted open discussion, an intellectual environment that nourished young minds and helped foster their analytical, critical and creative skills.
The outstanding quality of the faculty and an always-eager-to-learn student body, the close relationship between the two, the enriching experience of student life at dormitories, all contributed to the enhancement of the intellectual capacity of students and to their learning and internalization of scientific methods in dealing with any problem that they would encounter then and later throughout their lives.
It’s no wonder that, the scientific approach that students have gained in such an environment has been conducive to the development, over time, of a special METU culture where inquiring any matter that many others outside METU easily accept without questioning has become an important trait.
No wonder again, this free, open, inquisitive culture sometimes has to face resentment, and also attempts from a rigid political system to tame it are always present.
The Department of Economics celebrated it’s 60th anniversary in 2019. A glorious 60-year period that saw, in time, thanks to the efforts of a highly distinguished faculty, and the intellectual environment that I tried to tell about above, the graduation of so many good students who easily found their ways in academia, and in the public and private sectors in Turkey and abroad.
Increasing presence of METU alumnae in all areas is well known: It’s simply because they are the best when it comes to professional and language skills.
A good example is the Central Bank of Turkey that I joined in 1980, and “graduated” from in 2006 as governor.
Back in 1980, we were only a handful of METU graduates, mainly from the Economics Department, at the Central Bank. Over the years, more and more of us have joined, being overwhelmingly successful in the competition to join. Simply because METU alumnae excelled given the quality of the education that they received.
By the time my term as governor expired in 2006, the majority of the highly skilled cadres at the Research and Markets departments and many other departments were from METU, mainly Economics Department again; and four out of five members of the executive committee (governor plus four vice-governors) were METU alumnae !
To be a METU alumni, and to be an Economics alumni has always been, still is, and will continue to be a priviledge.
All the best to the students and prospective students of today..