Kees van Paridon is the new Chair of the University Council. He succeeds René Karens, who has stepped down after presiding over the Council for more than two years.
Van Paridon, who has worked as Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW) since 1999, already served on EUR’s University Council between 1976 and 1978 as a student of Spatial Economics. “I thought it was a very valuable institution at the time. And also nowadays you see a lot of attention to the quality of education and research and EUR’s strategic development.”
'Uraad used to be more political'
“I remember meetings that started at 4 in the afternoon and lasted until 2 in the morning,” Van Paridon reminisces. “The University Council was a lot more politicised at the time. You had different factions – left wing and right wing. Today’s Council is made up of faculty representatives.” Van Paridon, who until recently served as the Chair of the Public Administration capacity group, remembers that in the late 70s, everyone was still getting used to the concept of participation. “This was not that long after the first Maagdenhuis occupation. On top of that, the recent merger of the Faculty of Medicine and the NEH [In 1973, Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool and Medische Faculteit Rotterdam merged to form Erasmus University Rotterdam, eds.] played a role.”
Forty years on – and a fair number of Maagdenhuis occupations later – Van Paridon will once again be sitting on the participation council. “I’m pretty familiar with this body, I studied here myself and I’ve spent years working at EUR. I recently stepped down as Chairman of the Public Administration group and I have two years left until my retirement. So I hope to still contribute as the Chair of the University Council.”
Van Paridon doesn’t have a substantive agenda. “As the Chair of the University Council, you mainly preside over technical matters, as well as smooth over the differences a bit between the Executive Board’s wishes and the preferences of the Council.” Van Paridon does not yet know how he will proceed with the strengthening of the participation council (one of the projects launched by René Karens in partnership with Executive Board Chair Pauline van der Meer Mohr. “After all, we’ll be getting a new Chair for the Executive Board soon too. So as far as I’m concerned, we need to redetermine where we’ll be going from here. What does the new Chair want? Which scope do we have? Can we chart a joint course? Right now, I’m unable to say: this is how we’ll be doing it. That would be discourteous to the new Chair. Soon, there will be a progress report on ‘het goede gesprek’ (‘A good conversation’). That could be a good starting point, it seems to me.”