Up to three attempts were made by Executive Board chairman Martin Paul to postpone the addition of the extra item, which was added to the University Council's agenda at the last minute. He wanted to discuss it beforehand, he argued, but not on the basis of an article (published that same afternoon) in Observant. He wanted to talk about it on the basis of the memo, which the Executive Board could provide for the next meeting. The Council’s chair wanted nothing to do with a postponement, “we respond to the news. This is an important issue for the Council”. Not in the least because at this very moment, procedures have or are about to start for the recruitment of three deans; two in Randwijck and one at FASoS.
The subject of discussion is the new procedure for the appointment of deans, recently introduced by the Executive Board. The main change is that from now on, not only will the rector be part of the Appointments Advisory Committee (AAC), but “in principle” the entire Executive Board. Moreover, the same Board also names two scientists from the faculty and a dean from another faculty. The Faculty Council may put forward a student and an employee from the administrative and support staff (OBP). Furthermore, recruitment inside and outside the UM will take place simultaneously, and the Appointments Advisory Committee will also put forward an internal and external candidate, after which the entire Executive Board will make a choice.
The controversial issue for the University Council is whether the new procedure constitutes a further specification or an amendment of the Administration and Management Regulation, (Bestuurs- en beheersreglement UM, or BBRUM). In the first instance, the University Council does not need to be consulted, in the second instance it’s formal approval is demanded. A discussion followed on the Dutch phrase ‘een lid van het college van bestuur’, in the present section 2.17, paragraph 3: “In preparation of the appointment of a dean, the Executive Board puts forward, after consultation with the board of the faculty, an Appointments Advisory Committee, including ‘een lid van het college van bestuur’.”
Is that ‘a’ an absolute number (1), as some members argued (in the English version it states for example ‘one’ and not ‘a’, they said), or should it be read as ‘at least one’? The Executive Board, which was advised by it’s own legal department, chooses the latter. Another point of discussion was whether the dean should or shouldn't come from the faculty? In the eyes of University Council member and law professor Raymond Luja, it means 'should'. Therefore, the new procedure is an amendment of the Administration and Management Regulation and so requires the University Council's approval.
How does an outsider view this? Professor Raymond Schlössels, former employee of the Maastricht law faculty and since 2002 professor of State and Administrative Law in Nijmegen, says: “If I look at the whole package, the Executive Board wants to increase its influence considerably. A certain interpretation of the regulations allows that. You could read ‘one’ (‘een’) member as ‘a minimum of one’. You could appoint a dean from outside the UM, as long as you also offer the person concerned a faculty professorship. The question is whether this is in conflict with the spirit of the regulations. A dean needs the support of the faculty. With these adaptations, the ultimate power of decision in the case of the appointment of a dean is no longer with the faculty, but with the Executive Board.”
Former head legal department
When asked, the former head of the legal department of UM (now a pensioner) Jos Gerards and “practically the author of this BBRUM” explicitly says that there is indeed a conflict with ‘the spirit of the regulations’ here.
Gerards: “It states very consciously one member of the Executive Board, not two or one or more. Because that would add nothing to it, the Board can be consulted during the process anyway.”
Further on he stresses that the plan to incorporate the entire Board into the AAC/BAC as well as the ruling that there always need to be two candidates to be proposed, one from outside UM, mean much more than a simple specification of the regulations. “These are amendments that need to be formally approved by the U-council.”
Eventually, it was decided that this issue should be put on the Research and Education Committee's agenda next month. Until then, vice-chairman of the Executive Board, Nick Bos, promised, no irreversible steps will be taken with regard to the recruitment of the deans.