Wanted: rector who can provide a breath of fresh air

06 Feb 2023

The Supervisory Board wants to start the search for a new rector as soon as possible. The change of rectorship should take place during the centenary in October. The participational bodies insist on a vacancy that appeals to a diverse group of professors.

The university must look for a new figurehead. She or he must be a respected professor with administrative experience and scientific authority that extends beyond his or her own discipline. In other words, Radboud University is looking for a successor to Han van Krieken, who has been rector since 2016. He has announced he is retiring during the centenary in October.

Preparations for the recruitment are in full swing. In December, the Supervisory Board shared a profile with the University Joint Assembly. Besides being a good academic and administrator, the rector should also take up important themes such as open science, recognition & valuation, and creating a safe and inclusive culture.

As neutral as possible

This week, the Joint Assembly responded to that document. While the participational bodies largely agree with the outline, there are emphases. ‘In the profile, for example, excellence is very much emphasised’, says Tim Riswick, vice-president of the Works Council. ‘Research shows that men in particular recognise themselves in that qualification.’

The vacancy text should be as neutral as possible, agrees Mark Bunschoten, chair of the University Student Council. A group of candidates that is as diverse as possible should feel addressed. That is why the Joint Assembly suggests involving a DEI officer in the recruitment process.

It is customary for a rector to be elected from within the university’s own ranks. This is often done on the recommendation of colleagues. Often it is (former) deans who take the step of joining the Executive Board. Van Krieken was an exception; he was chairman of the Radboudumc Centre for Oncology before he was given the rector’s chain.

Social safety

Still, the participational bodies hope that a broad search will be made. It would be a shame if only former deans and directors were looked at, Bunschoten believes. Riswick hopes for a young rector – someone who can bring a breath of fresh air and has proven to find themes such as social safety important.

A woman as rector? ‘That would be a great statement’

And no, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman. ‘But it would be a great statement’, says Bunschoten. ‘Given the centenary celebrations, it would be nice if the university came up with a surprising candidate. Someone that makes you think: oh, I hadn’t thought of that.’

Translated by Jan ‘Scholten

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