Photographer:Fotograaf: archive Jonathan van Tilburg
MAASTRICHT. Chairman of the University Council, Jonathan van Tilburg, has stepped down as of 1 March. The University Council had asked him the day before “to reconsider his position”. The reason for his departure is unclear.
During a confidential preliminary consultation on Wednesday afternoon, 27 February, and just before the public council meeting was to start, Van Tilburg left the hall and said: “I have been fired.” This to the surprise of the group waiting at the door, including the chair and vice-chair of the Executive Board. In a very concise statement given the following day, the University Council did not speak of dismissal. “I was somewhat premature with my statement that I had been fired,” the ex-chairman stated when asked.
The University Council prefers not to comment on the reason for the departure. Van Tilburg does not want to reveal anything either at this time, except: “That it concerns the interpretation of the role as independent/technical chairman and the organisation of the support of the University Council.”
Van Tilburg, Associate Professor of Human Biology, was on his second term as chairman and was re-appointed last March for a period of two years. He was appointed as an ‘external’ chairman, which means that he was not a member of the University Council.
Vice-chairman of the University Council and student council member Jurgen van Heertum will fulfil the chairman duties for the time being.
It is the third time in the history of the UM that a University Council chairperson has been forced to leave. In 1982 the chairman, student Richard Starmans, was forced to step down after his University Council fraction had lobbied in the Second Chamber against the construction of a university hospital.
In 2003 chairperson Alita Hidding, appointed from outside the UM, took the honourable way out, and in doing so prevented a threatening motion of no confidence. She had been appointed a little more than a year before that. Her too business-like style and especially the fact that she was too close to the Executive Board were her undoing.
Observant will interview the former chairman next week.