09 februari 2016

The New Order

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‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new…’ (From the poem Morte d’Arthur, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1835).

The New Year marked the passing of an eventful 2015 for the VU, and the promise of an equally eventful year to come. I want to stand still and take stock of a momentous change heralded by the new year, a change that may have gone somewhat unnoticed within our broader community. I am referring to the formal changes in the structure of the umbrella organizations for the VU and the VUmc.

Until 31 December 2015, the VU and VUmc were two peas in a pod, and part of a single foundation, the Stichting VU-VUmc. As of January 1, 2016, the VU and VUmc follow their separate paths as independent entities, each legally housed in separate foundations, respectively the Stichting VU and the Stichting VUmc. The formation of separate entities has advantages from two standpoints: governance and flexibility. The VU and the VUmc are exceedingly complex organizations in their own right; this split into independent organizations leads to clarity of missions for each institution, and to better governance, with independent supervisory boards with the required domain-specific expertise. The independence also gives the VU and the VUmc additional flexibility in separately determining their own futures and collaborations, such as a far-reaching alliance with the AMC that the VUmc is actively exploring. 

The formation of separate entities has advantages
from two standpoints: governance and flexibility

For half a century the VU and VUmc have been linked as institutions. Colocalization of the VUmc and the VU on one campus is a great good – it has given, and continues to give, both institutions enormous opportunities for achieving research and educational synergies, and allows us to jointly develop the full spectrum of research, from fundamental, curiosity-driven science, to translational work relevant in the clinic. The ‘old order’ may be changing, and we may be going separate ways, but we remain inextricably intertwined as institutions sharing a history, identity, basic philosophy, and one campus. Let’s keep it that way.

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