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.
Sjoerd Claessens, senior lecturer of European Law and chairman of the Law Faculty Council: “A female rector would be good for diversity in the Executive Board. Mariëlle Heijltjes seems to me to be a good candidate. I know her as a lecturer in one of the academic leadership modules of a management course that I took. She had the power to bring people together, and as far as I am concerned that is what is needed, someone who sees the similarities and where necessary brings about a connection, but who also respects the differences between faculties. I am not an advocate of uniformity for the university as a whole.”
Claessens reckons that the responsibility for education and research should primarily lie with the faculties. “The rector should take a facilitating position.”
And if at all possible, she has to get her hands dirty: give lectures, run tutorial meetings and do research. “When I was on the board of the law faculty, I continued to teach. I wanted to stay in touch with the work floor, with the day-to-day running of things.”
Lastly, Claessens, who co-ordinates the bachelor’s programme of Science of Law and who loves teaching, hopes that the new rector “will take a serious look at teaching careers. Teaching and research are two sides of the same coin, but in practice research weighs much heavier. I feel that we, just like in Medicine, should create senior lecturer or a number of professorships for teaching professionals. Allow staff to do what they love doing and give them a chance to get on in that field.”
Michael Capalbo, lecturer at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences, feels that the new rector should be a supporter of the principles of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. “Firstly, they say: ‘Thanks to our research, we can teach at the highest level and thanks to our teaching, young people come to us with new ideas.’ So no discussion about what is more important, teaching and research complement each other. Secondly: ‘We don’t bother with politics or religion and they don’t bother with us.’ This freedom and independence are what a rector should ultimately strive for. He should maintain a good balance between the region, commerce and politics. What is good for them, is not necessarily good for science. To be able to successfully juggle all those balls, he should have a great deal of managerial experience. He should also be a people person, who knows what is going on and has a broad interest.
“Teun Dekker, currently interim dean of University College, could be that person. He is a philosopher, which helps, has done good research, acquired subsidies, and has written books and articles, so he knows what that is about, has a broad interest, is very well liked by students, carries a warm heart for teaching, and keeps UCM going: an institute that was given the highest mark of appreciation by students of all the study programmes in the Netherlands.” Capalbo also thinks that Dekker would not be afraid to steer his own course. “The ministry asked if UCM could help train teachers. Dekker said: we cannot do that, because it would get in the way of the quality of our education.”
According to Capalbo, another candidate would be Anita Jansen, professor of Experimental Clinical Psychology. “She is highly suitable. Especially because she doesn’t want the job. During a war you don’t want a general who is full of enthusiasm. What is also good is the fact that she doesn’t interfere with everything. But where she does interfere, things are done well. And that her research is fantastic, is beyond doubt.”
Former dean of SBE and professor of Marketing, Jos Lemmink, doesn’t have a name ready at the tip of his tongue. So he did not recommend anyone to the selection committee, and he himself is not interested either. After some thought, he comes up with his own successor, the present dean of SBE, Philip Vergauwen. “He is doing a good job here, and he would also make a good rector. But to be honest, I would rather keep him here.”
More important to Lemmink is the new rector’s agenda: “It has got to be someone who really focuses on education and educational innovation, and who also has ideas on the subject. Especially bringing in new technology, because a lot is going on in the outside world that we don’t see within the walls of the university yet. I’m not just talking about online lectures, MOOCs; the use of technology in education could be much broader. Take IBM Watson, who have incorporated intelligence into search engines. Universities could embrace this and use it in their programmes; so why aren’t we doing that? Something like that is important for the UM’s strategy too.
“I find this subject so important that the new rector should make it his responsibility. Has the present vice rector been appointed especially for educational innovation? Well, then that role will become redundant.”
Wammes Bos, Wendy Degens, Cleo Freriks