Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
Without him there would have been no university, no hospital, perhaps not even a city to gradually awaken from its provincial slumber. So if any Maastrichtenaar deserves a statue, it’s Sjeng Tans. He was a true daredevil, a Labour Party (PvdA) politician who fought for a university in Limburg.
The statue was created by the artist Caius Spronken. It will be officially ‘unveiled’ on Friday, although it has already been in place for a month, directly behind the gate of the Tongersestraat 53. This is the spot where it all began: where the Rijksuniversiteit Limburg opened its doors, and where the medical faculty was originally housed. The founders were supposed to wait until 1976, as agreed with the powers that be in The Hague. Instead a ‘core group of professors’ were approached as early as 1973 to bring the plans to fruition. It was an example of administrative disobedience, and it had the desired effect: by 1976 the first cohort of medical students, some 50 in all, were already filing into the classrooms. As for Tans? He became the university’s first president.
The statue, which in total cost €50,000, is a gift from the university to the city on the occasion of UM’s 40th anniversary, but also AZM, Universiteitsfonds Limburg/SWOL, the Province of Limburg, the city council, several foundations and private donors have contributed.
The statue of Sjeng Tans will be unveiled in front of the Tongersestraat 53 at 16.30 on Friday 2 September