MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University’s internal regulations will be adapted in such a way that the rector no longer needs to be one of the UM’s professors. This intention is expressed in a proposal submitted to the University Council by the Executive Board this week. In the case of the appointment of deans, however, the rules remain unchanged.
The appointment of Rianne Letschert - at the time a professor in Tilburg - as rector of the UM as of September last year, led to raised eyebrows here and there. After all, the regulations seemed very clear: ‘The rector shall be appointed from the professors at the university.’ The idea behind this, legal experts explained to Observant at the time, was that the rector as a “representative of the highest echelon of academic staff within the institute” was to become a member of the Executive Board. A rector from outside who is first quickly appointed as a professor? That was “a trick,” was their judgement. The chairperson of the UM’s Supervisory Board, Truze Lodder, paid no attention to this. It is the Supervisory Board that appoints the members of the Executive Board. Later, she said that she was proud that she had not stuck to the rules, certainly when minister Bussemaker from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Cultural Affairs and Science, complimented her at the time of the changing of rectors.
The new Administration and Management Regulation (BBRUM) now merely states that the rector must be a professor; this makes discussions on their origin a thing of the past.
What is remarkable, however, is the fact that this trend is not extended to the appointment procedure for faculty deans. The regulations still state that this should be a professor who “works at the faculty”. This stipulation was once included to specifically recruit deans from the faculty’s own professors.
To appoint an external dean, the same kind of ‘trick’ will be applied as with rector Letschert: recruit as a dean, but appoint him or her as a professor at the faculty. Whether the person in question will do something with that professorship, always remains to be seen. Experience has shown us that the deanship takes up a lot of time. At the UM, ‘career’ deans from outside are highly exceptional. There have been three: Paul Tummers at Arts and Culture/FASoS, and Harold Sanders and Martin Paul at Medicine /FHML.
At the moment, there is a vacancy at the Faculty of Law. Dean Hildegard Schneider resigns next autumn. Recruitment explicitly extends beyond the boundaries of the faculty.