Prof. Zeynep Çelik is the recipient Vehbi Koç Award in the field of “Culture”.
The recipient of the 13th Vehbi Koç Award was announced at the award ceremony attended by the members of the entire Koç family, and guests. Among the three candidates nominated by the Selection Committee headed by Prof. Şevket Pamuk, Vehbi Koç Foundation Board of Directors chose Prof. Zeynep Çelik as the recipient of the 13th Vehbi Koç Award for her remarkable work in the field of culture and history. Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding, presented the award to Prof. Zeynep Çelik who will also receive $100,000 as a financial reward.
In the speech he delivered at the 13th Vehbi Koç Commemoration and Award Ceremony, Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding, pointed out that numerous individuals and institutions in Turkey, like the Vehbi Koç Foundation, strive everyday to add value to the society, and continued "It has become the principle of our Foundation to ensure that such exemplary work is recognized and promoted." Adding that the Vehbi Koç Award is given out annually in one of Vehbi Koç Foundation's three main fields of activity, education, culture, and healthcare, respectively, and that Prof. Zeynep Çelik has been chosen for this year's award for her invaluable work in the field of culture, Mustafa V. Koç said: "Prof. Çelik is a historian that has contributed immensely to the Ottoman urban, cultural and intellectual history in the last thirty years; and while doing that she has broken the introverted nature of the Ottoman historiography, which it was often confined to, and opened it to a much wider audience."
Mustafa V. Koç: "If Vehbi Koç were here today, he would say 'Hold tight to your business. Don't stray from what you know is right. Hardships come and go. What's important is the business and the values that keep this business together'."
"This is the eighteenth anniversary of the passing of Vehbi Koç, the founder of our group. It is also the thirteenth year that we are giving out the Vehbi Koç Award that we have established to recognize and honor individuals and institutions with outstanding contributions to the development of Turkey and Turkish people. We remember Vehbi Koç every single day. This Group is his legacy and carries his mark in each and every corner. Love for our country, our hard work, the importance we place on institutionalization, superior work ethics, always striving to outperform ourselves, the principle of doing good for our country and for humankind, these are all Vehbi Koç's legacy and they light our path."
Mustafa V. Koç said that while preparing his speech, he remembered Vehbi Koç even more in these turbulent times that we are all going through, and continued: "We asked ourselves, 'What would Vehbi Koç recommend if he were alive?' If Vehbi Koç were here today, I think he would say 'Hold tight to your business. Don't stray from what you know is right. Hardships come and go. What's important is the business and the values that keep this business together'."
Mustafa V. Koç: "We have always been interested and involved in our country's issues with objectivity, and we will continue to be so in the future too."
Mentioning that despite many developments in Turkey, some issues and weaknesses sadly tend to repeat themselves, Mustafa V. Koç added: "As a developing country, we have experienced many ebbs and flows both in democracy and economy during this journey. It is highly probable that we will face such challenges in the future as well. In order to minimize the implications of these fluctuations, we have taken universal values and the principles of institutionalization as our anchor, and we have continued to work and do our best. While doing that we have never entered into the daily political debates and always remained objective. However, this country belongs to us and it is our duty to protect this beautiful country that is the pillar of our strength. We have always been interested and involved in our country's issues with objectivity, and we will continue to be so in the future too."
Mustafa V. Koç: "We will always protect and be faithful to the values that our founder has entrusted us with."
Mustafa V. Koç pointed out that in his memoirs titled "Hayat Hikayem" (1973), the late Vehbi Koç talked in his own modest style about all of his achievements, which seemed impossible to undertake in a lifetime, his challenges and successes, as if they were very easily accomplished. He continued, "But you know that there are months and sometimes years of work, discussions, and negotiation processes behind each success. One of the best examples of this is the fact that he worked relentlessly for twenty years to create Vehbi Koc Foundation, which as an institution has been serving our country for 45 years and which brings us together today. As I remember our founder with love and respect, I would like to emphasize that we will always protect and be faithful to the values that our founder has entrusted us with."
Prof. Zeynep Çelik: An Architectural Historian with immense contributions to Ottoman, urban and cultural history in the last 30 years
A short film including sections from Prof. Çelik's life was shown during the award ceremony; in her acceptance speech Prof. Zeynep Çelik said that she was very honored to receive the 13th Vehbi Koç Award. "My generation has played an important role in expanding the breadth of architectural history, in stretching and pulling it toward unexpected directions, and approaching from a critical point of view. I am quite proud to be considered a part of this movement. A special contribution that my works have provided is to underline intercultural relationships. I believe I have established that the late period Ottoman Empire is an important part of modernity, which is always attributed to the West. This is now a widely recognized phenomenon."
After graduating from Istanbul Technical University, Department of Architecture with B. Arch. in 1975, she received her M. Arch. degree from Rice University, and Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley. In 1991 she started teaching at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture and Design, where she continues as distinguished professor, while she carries on her studies and research.
She published her first book "The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century" in 1986 for which she won the Institute of Turkish Studies Book Award. The book is considered the first significant and systematic work on the urban architecture in the Ottoman period. Prof. Zeynep Çelik was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the Bosporus University in 2013 for her unique and pioneering work in the fields of Ottoman urban, cultural and intellectual history.
About Vehbi Koç Foundation
Founded on January 17, 1969 by the late Mr. Vehbi Koç, one of the most prominent Turkish industrialists, Vehbi Koç Foundation is celebrating its 45th anniversary with the rightful pride of having contributed dozens of institutions to Turkey and supporting tens of thousands of students. Aiming to contribute to a modern and growing country since its inception as the first private foundation in Turkey, the Foundation is committed to delivering pioneering and exemplary services that will improve the society's quality of life in the areas of education, health, and culture. To date, Vehbi Koç Foundation has provided Turkey with 28 educational, six healthcare and six cultural institutions, and also supported hundreds of projects. In addition to the scholarships offered through educational institutions, the number of students supported by the foundation with direct scholarships has reached 45 thousand in 45 years. Further information about Vehbi Koç Foundation can be found at www.vkv.org.tr .
About Vehbi Koç Award:
Aiming to recognize and reward exemplary services that add value to the society, the Vehbi Koç Award is given out annually in the areas of education, healthcare, and culture since 2002. Worth $100,000, it is the highest financial award given out in Turkey. The previous recipients of the award are:
- 2002 - Topkapı Palace Museum for their invaluable cultural activities
- 2003 - Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) for their successful educational initiatives
- 2004 - Bilkent University School of Sciences, Department of Biology and Genetics for their contributions to healthcare
- 2005 - Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca in literature, as a sub-category of culture,
- 2006 - Nuri Okutan, the then Governor of Sakarya for his contributions to pre-school education during his career
- 2007 – Prof. Aziz Sancar in the area of health for his globally recognized studies on the Molecular Mechanisms of DNA Repair and Regulation of the Biological Clock
- 2008 - Prof. Mehmet Özdoğan for his contributions to prehistoric archaeology in the Marmara Region
- 2009 - Prof. Türkan Saylan for her life-long commitment to education
- 2010 - Prof. Turgay Dalkara for his international achievements in cerebrovascular diseases
- 2011 - Prof. Filiz Ali, regarded the most productive and influential musical authority, musicologist and music critic in Turkey, and the Ayvalık International Music Academy (AIMA) she founded as an institution that not only empowers young musicians by opening new horizons but is also recognized both locally and internationally as a successful transformation project.
- 2012 - Prof. Nermin Abadan Unat, known as the "Master of masters" who taught Political Science to hundreds of students and academicians, for being a prominent scholar and pioneering researcher in the field of "Women" and "International Migration".
- 2013 - Prof. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil for his discoveries that completely changed the medical world's perception of metabolic diseases