Photographer:Fotograaf: archive university council
Controversial issue: procedure for the appointment of deans
MAASTRICHT. A conflict has arisen between the University Council and the Executive Board. The controversial issue is the new procedure for the appointment of deans, which states that from now on, the entire Executive Board will sit on the Appointments Advisory Committee for the appointment of deans. Until now, only the rector was a member of the committee, and the University Council would like to keep it that way. The conflict – a dispute, in legal terms – now lies with the Supervisory Board.
There were two letters on the agenda during the latest University Council meeting: one from the Council itself and one from the Executive Board, a suspension ensued, resulting in irritation. In the end, parties failed to reach a solution last week, so now the conflict about the new procedure for the appointment of deans has been submitted to the Supervisory Board. The latter must now investigate - in accordance with the University Council regulations - whether an amicable settlement is possible. If this turns out to be impossible, the case will go to the national arbitration board.
The discussion has been on-going for a while and the proposal by the Executive Board has already been adapted on a number of points. For example, it is no longer the rector together with the HR director who selects the job application letters. This will remain a task for the entire Appointments Advisory Committee. Furthermore, the Executive Board stands by the point that two candidates (if available) should be put forward, but the addition that this should be an internal and an external candidate was dropped. Also, if the Executive Board has a good internal candidate in mind, no action will be taken to recruit externally, but there will be - upon the Council’s request - an open internal procedure.
But those adaptations have not taken the sting out of the discussion. The greatest obstacle is still the fact that from now on not only the rector but all three Executive Board members will sit on the Appointments Advisory Committee. It is quite odd that the Executive Board is going to give itself advice, argued council member Raymond Luja on behalf of the entire University Council. After all, the Appointments Advisory Committee puts forward two candidates, after which the Executive Board as a whole makes a choice. “This has repercussions for the independence and credibility of the Appointments Advisory Committee, where until now representatives from the faculty has a majority.”
Aside from that, Luja continued, this is in breach of the UM Administration and Management Regulation (Bestuurs- en beheersreglement UM). Again he referred to the word ‘een’ in section 2.17, paragraph 3 of the regulation: “In preparation of the appointment of a dean, the Executive Board will set up, after consultation with the board of the faculty, an Appointments Advisory Committee, of which ‘een’ (‘a’ or ‘one’) is a member of the Executive Board.” According to the council ‘een’ is an absolute number (1) and not ‘at least one’ as is the distinct conviction of the Executive Board. Luja: “In 2007, the Administration and Management Regulation was adapted so that multiple student members could join the Faculty Board. ‘Een’ was then replaced by ‘at least one’.” He just wants to say: ‘een’ was really just one.
The Executive Board in turn stated that the composition of the selection committee (one student, one non-academic staff member, and two academic staff members from the faculty, three members from the Executive Board and a dean from another faculty) is a “perfect balance” between the “faculty and university perspectives”. Only to add that the setting up of an Appointments Advisory Committee, as was included in the Administration and Management Regulation at the end of the nineteen-nineties, is not required by the WHW (Wet op het Hoger onderwijs en Wetenschappelijk onderzoek, or Higher Education and Scientific Research Act). In other words, the decision to have an Appointments Advisory Committee – something that predecessors determined – is a “collegial gesture”. That WHW also states that the Executive Board has the decisive power in the appointment of deans, the Executive Board writes to the University Council. “It is and was up to the EB to decide how to participate in the selection procedure: either by being represented by a single member, two members or in full.”
Eventually, an adjournment was called, upon which the University Council consulted in private and decided not to change its point of view. The Executive Board was not willing to do so either, after which council chairperson Amanda Kluveld concluded that there was a difference of opinion and that the case should be put before the Supervisory Board. Rector Rianne Letschert, clearly not amused, wondered if this was the right way to proceed. “I don't know your rules by heart, we will have to look that up.”
One council member wanted to know how to continue with the procedure that had already been started for the appointment of a new dean for the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences. The Appointments Advisory Committee for this appointment was set up on the basis of the new rules, so with three Executive Board members. The procedure will be discontinued and an Appointments Advisory Committee based on the old rules will be set up, the rector said. Recruitment will take place both internally and externally, because the number of applicants after a first internal round was not large enough.