Martin Paul during his New Year’s speech
MAASTRICHT. If there is anything we have seen during this recent cyberattack, said President Martin Paul last Monday at a well-attended New Year’s reception in the Bonnefantenmuseum, it is the community spirit within this university. Some staff did not have a Christmas holiday, but instead had to make long working hours. “The crisis management team headed by Nick Bos, IT staff, members of the university library team, deans, interim spokesperson Fons Elbersen.” Others showed their sympathy, gave support and offered their help. “This organisation is solid as a rock in times of crisis. Thus, we can win this fight.”
Shortly before that, Paul reported that he had thrown away the speech that he had prepared. After all, today should be about the cyberattack. “Just before Christmas, we felt as if we were in Dr. Seuss’ children’s book How the Grinch stole Christmas!” Suddenly, Maastricht was on the national news and has remained so to this day. “There is a lot to be said about this matter, but we will do so later, when the problems have been solved.” He thanked all staff and students again, and then gave a little present: “Tomorrow (Tuesday, 7 January) the e-mail system will be operational again from 8:00 in the morning.” The message met with loud cheers.
Then it was Nick Bos’ turn, vice-chair of the Executive Board, to present the employee awards. A total of 29 employees had been nominated by their own colleagues. A jury headed by Bos selected two winners. The first was Mieke Jansen, head of the student psychologists since 2016, who received flowers, a statue, a 500-euro dining voucher, and a certificate. She is greatly appreciated by her sixteen colleagues, among other things for her enthusiasm, commitment and trust.
The second one to receive the limelight was HR adviser Pierre Schröder. He was praised for his expertise and his genuine interest in people. He is also a source of inspiration for many, someone who encourages others to develop. It is something he has been doing all his life. Schröder felt honoured, but said that the award was not just for him, but for the entire HR department.
The formal part of the reception was completed by the presentation of the sustainability award, worth 7,500 euro. This went to professor Stef Kremers and researcher Nicole Stappers for their research project on the Groene Loper in Maastricht; a large-scale study concerning the former A2, which looked at how a changing environment affects the health of those living there.