Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
“I have become very Dutch”
MAASTRICHT. The President of Maastricht University, Professor Martin Paul (1958), will remain the highest university official until 2023. By then, he will have been President for a total of twelve years, while eight years is the standard.
No, he didn’t bring it up himself. A third term was discussed during his annual performance appraisal with the Supervisory Board (it’s the Board that appoints the President) in December 2017 as one of the options for after May 2019, the time when his second term ends. Martin Paul: “I only wanted to consider it if there appeared to be sufficient support within the institute. I asked the Supervisory Board to look into that first.” Both his close colleagues on the Executive Board and the deans as well as the University Council turned out to be positive.
It also gave him time to think. “I looked into other jobs, both in Germany and elsewhere. But the culture there is often different, I have become very Dutch, I like openness, not too much hierarchy. Universities and hospitals there (Martin Paul is Professor of Pharmacology, ed.) are often like large tankers, with little room for change. Here in Maastricht, you can really do business, such as the development of Brightlands, the founding of the new Faculty of Science and Engineering, the international university networks.” And last but not least: “I have really great colleagues, it is not a matter of course that you have such chemistry in the Executive Board. The relationship with the deans and the representative bodies is good. All that together gives energy and makes the UM a special place for me.”
Is twelve years of presidency not too long? In Maastricht, only President Karl Dittrich embarked upon a third term, which he didn’t complete by the way. At the time there were rumblings that he had been there too long. Paul: “In Cologne they say: Jede Jeck is anders. We all have an individual biography. I thoroughly discussed this choice with my colleagues and my wife. I also took a good look in the mirror and asked: Do you really still want this, can you still do it? The answer is: yes. There was no need, I could always return to research.”
What will be his focus in his third term? “It is not me, but us. We do it together. We will work on the broadening of the UM's profile with the science faculty, we will continue our internationalisation efforts, European networks and Brightlands, the Kennis-As and collaboration with the region. That project runs until 2023. It started during my presidency, it is great that I experience its completion.”