MP Pieter Duisenberg, a representative of the Dutch liberal party, VVD, will be the new Chairman of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). As of 1 October, Duisenberg will succeed Karl Dittrich, who is retiring.

Kristel Baele, the President of Erasmus University’s Executive Board as well as of VSNU’s selection committee, called Duisenberg ‘a passionate and highly engaged leader with a love for academia’, who has paid his dues in both the business community and politics.

Duisenberg will be tasked with helping VSNU ‘operate as decisively as possible and have a greater impact’. According to a press release, the universities affiliated with VSNU are keen to ‘make a prominent contribution to the knowledge society that is the Netherlands and make a great effort together so as to achieve the very highest rank, both in our own society and in the international playing field’.

‘Limited political diversity’

Duisenberg was appointed chair for a four-year term. He has been an MP for VVD since 2012, his portfolio being higher education and science. In the last five years, he has been one of the driving forces between the new student loan system. Furthermore, he argued for more university-educated teachers at secondary schools, greater internationalisation and more competent programme committees.

At the start of the year, he attracted a great deal of attention when he proposed an investigation of what he perceived to be a lack of political diversity at Dutch universities. The Minister for Education, Jet Bussemaker, did not care for the proposal, but the majority of MPs supported his motion.

EUR alumnus

Before entering the Lower House, Duisenberg was part of the business community for over twenty years, having worked at Shell, McKinsey & Company and Eneco. He is an Erasmus University alumnus who studied macroeconomics in Rotterdam.