Upon taking office as rector, I remarked during my installation address that I would be spending a great deal of my time listening to the VU academic community. I am now six weeks into the role, and I have been speaking to colleagues across the entire spectrum – students, scientific staff, professors, deans, directors, the medezeggenschap, external stakeholders. To put it in a different perspective, the month of September boils down to about 120 meetings, where I have for the most part been in receiving mode.
What strikes me in my conversations is the passion and ambition of the community, and the desire and willingness of those with whom I’ve spoken to contribute to making the VU a better institution. There is a great deal to be proud of, although I get the feeling that we could be more active in sharing, within our own community, and with the outside world, our success stories. Every week I have tried to find some time to ‘fly under the radar’ and talk to young colleagues about their drive and dreams. And of course to listen carefully to problems they face.
We may sit on opposite sides of the table,
but we have the very same interests at heart
On September 16th I experienced my first formal meeting with the GV, the joint meeting of the works council and the university student council. The meeting was fruitful and respectful of each others’ positions, in spite of the fact that we sometimes disagreed. What struck me however was the great physical distance between where the Executive Board and the chairpersons of the councils sat. We may sit on opposite sides of the table, but we have the very same interests at heart – the wellbeing of this institution. Rearranging the furniture and the seating arrangement may help to bring us literally, and symbolically, closer together. Just a thought…