A new leader seeks transparancy


It’s a recurring ritual which marks the opening of the new academic year: professors march from the Minderbroedersberg to the Theater aan het Vrijthof, where the ceremony takes place. Last Monday, students joined this cortège for the first time. But not everyone who was invited actually showed up. Student association Circumflex refused to join because their delegation was restricted to merely three members.

The ceremony theme was ‘Innovation and leadership’. Chair of the university board, Jo Ritzen, argued in his speech that the global crisis demands a new kind of leader who cares for climate problems and sustainability and sets high personal ethical standards.

The keynote speech was delivered by entrepreneur Marc van der Chijs, himself a graduate of Maastricht University. He is one of the founders of Tudou.com, China’s largest video and podcasting website. From his own experience, Van der Chijs pointed out the characteristics of ‘new leaders’ and stressed their acquaintance with the internet. A new leader, he believes, seeks transparency, writes a weblog and is a member of facebook: “People who don’t publish personal information on the internet seem to be hiding something.” Van der Chijs himself writes about everything in his weblog, personal and professional. “I don’t believe in privacy anymore.”

That same afternoon, researcher Aagje Swinnen recieved the Hustinx Stipend for Young Scientists for her project ‘Aging Studies’. Anna Theuvenet is the winner of the 2009 Student Award; last year she founded the Bachi Amaa Foundation, which aims to provide orphans in Nepal with accommodation and education.

During the morning symposium on ‘New Leadership’ three students (selected from a group)  received a prize for their responses to Van der Chijs’s maxim: ‘Giving your staff freedom (within a framework) leads to innovation!’ Columbian law student Laura Gutiérrez Gómez was judged the best, and will enjoy the privilege of lunching with Jo Ritzen.


Maurice Timmermans

A new leader seeks transparancy
Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

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