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“You have to ask yourself with every item on the agenda: why could this not be public?”

“You have to ask yourself with every item on the agenda: why could this not be public?”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Historian Amanda Kluveld new University Council chairperson

MAASTRICHT. For two whole years, Dr Amanda Kluveld was chairperson of the Faculty Council at Arts and Social Sciences. As of 1 September, the Maastricht historian is the new chairperson of the University Council. She is an advocate of transparency and likes to give council members their space.

Amanda Kluveld succeeds Jonathan van Tilburg, who was forced to step down in March because of a “difference of opinion concerning internal affairs”. She studied Social History in Rotterdam, did a PhD in Maastricht, and then worked in Utrecht and Amsterdam. She has been back at the UM for ten years now.

Kluveld has been active in employee participation since 1998, not just in Maastricht, but also at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Humanistic Studies. She was also chairperson for the latter in their University Council. “I sometimes make resolutions with myself to concentrate completely on my research, but I never manage. I believe in the academic community and feel it is important to contribute towards it.” So yes, she knows that employee participation is not a priority for many colleagues. “The image is not good, the turnout for elections is low. But it creates the basis for decisions and strategic choices. Also, a council doesn't need to be a burden for the board, it can actually be an advantage to exchange thoughts, to have to answer critical questions, to know how others feel.”

Vote

Unlike during the past two years at FASoS (she was re-elected as a council member, but will pass her seat to someone else), Kluveld is now a technical chairperson. “I am not a council member, I do not have a vote.” Laughing: “So indeed, my opinion won't matter. I want to support the council so that it can function at a high level and take decisions that I can endorse. I also hope to create greater awareness of the University Council's work. I'm not sure how just yet. Ideas are welcome.”

Open doors

Kluveld feels that it is very important that the doors to the council remain open as much as possible. During her time in office as chairperson of the FASoS Faculty Council, hardly any item ended up on the confidential agenda. “You have to ask yourself each time: why could this item not be dealt with in public? That is my guideline. Only if it really cannot be any other way, a topic will be dealt with confidentially. I don't think that Sophie (dean of FASoS, ed.) has had a harder time the past couple of years than her colleagues elsewhere in the UM.”

Frustration

She is used to giving council members - “I have heard that University Council members are well-informed and enthusiastic” - the space to articulate their views. “I feel it is sometimes necessary for people to voice their opinion a second time. It is important that they are heard, although I do keep tabs on the time. But eventually this is sometimes the way to reach consensus after all, or at least to reduce frustration. I may be a bit of a softie as far as that's concerned. That doesn't mean I avoid confrontation, but I use it as sparingly as possible. That is also much more effective.”

She looks forward with confidence to consulting with the Executive Board. The introduction went well. “Obviously I will inform them if I have a different opinion. I suspect that the Board would find it strange if I were to hold my tongue.”

 

 

 

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