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“Hildegard Schneider is good, but I don’t want to lose her as dean”

“Hildegard Schneider is good, but I don’t want to lose her as dean”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Who should succeed rector Luc Soete?

Rector magnificus Luc Soete is leaving. On 1 September his successor will take over. Who should that be? And what should he/she do especially? Observant will ask students and staff this question in the coming weeks.

Louis Berkvens, professor of History of Law and former chairman of the University Council: The new rector should be “an inspired, intellectual highflyer, a facilitator and someone who can represent the UM across the board. We have a tremendous medical cluster in Randwyck and a number of fairly small but certainly not unimportant faculties in the city centre. The new rector should be well aware of this diversity.” That is why, according to Berkvens, it should be someone who can look beyond his or her field.
City centre or Randwyck? Berkvens doesn’t have a strong preference, “but if I look at the Executive Board with Martin Paul as a powerful manager from Randwyck, then I think that it is good if there is a strong academic from the city centre sitting opposite him. Preferably a woman, seeing as the number of female professors at this university is still too low. It’s hard to give names. Hildegard Schneider, our own dean, does very well; she is enthusiastic and has a broad interest. But of course I wouldn’t want to lose her as dean.”
Berkvens feels that the new rector needs to show his face more in The Hague and Brussels, visiting the important institutions that finance education and research. “Subsidies from NWO and European funds are our weaker points.”
Berkvens is still in favour of a three-manned Executive Board, although he does feel that Martin Paul can combine the roles of president and rector superbly, as former rector Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman suggested in this column two weeks ago. “Maybe Kruseman should become rector again,” he jokes. “He was an inspiring rector magnificus.”
Having a vice rector of Education in the Executive Board is taking things too far, according to Berkvens. “I really don’t understand the choice of having such a position. It is proof of incompetence. I have nothing against Harm Hospers, but education should be the rector’s responsibility.”

Philip Vergauwen, dean of the School of Business and Economics: “I feel it is time for a female rector. Whatever way you put it, women often have a different view on matters. Often refreshing, new and all-embracing. They often come up with solutions and visions that a man wouldn’t have thought of. Very inspiring. For me it is not about better or worse, it is about different. As far as that is concerned, I am also an advocate of more people from other cultures at the top.
“We have sufficient female talent in our ranks, although I can’t oversee the entire academic field. We have Mariëlle Heijltjes, of course, but I wouldn’t like to lose her. We badly need her ourselves. Looking at Psychology, I’m thinking for example of Anita Jansen. I hear lots of good things about her. There are undoubtedly many other good women out there, just like at FHML. I just don’t know them sufficiently. If you look at Law, then I’m thinking of Hildegard Schneider. But there again, there are probably many other suitable candidates, but I know Hildegard best of all.”
Vergauwen feels that the new rector should argue for more diversity in education and research on a national level. “Diversity could become the quality and power of Dutch universities. But are we brave enough as a university to introduce a different education system from our sister institutes? Would we drop in the rankings? What if ‘our’ innovation is not picked up, or not yet? When is your education good? If we produce students who have worked like crazy to gain high grades? Or if we are not afraid to experiment?

“Do we dare to stimulate fundamental research without the guarantee of top publications in journals that are dominated by editors who primarily want to see their own work quoted, resulting in research becoming very mainstream?”
“The new rector should be a top scientist who can express the pure academic values of our university.” He himself is also mentioned as a possible successor to Luc Soete. “Me? No, I wouldn’t do that. I still have a lot to do at SBE. And honestly, being a rector is not for me: I want to be close to the day-to-day process of teaching and research; I would prefer to be closer to the field and the students. And by the way: I wouldn’t be a good candidate. I am neither a female nor a top researcher.”

Wendy Degens, Riki Janssen



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