Over the past two years, the university and the Erasmus Trustfonds have quietly been working on what will be the biggest endowment fund at a Dutch university.
‘We are now hoping for a ‘solidarity effect’
In 2025 this Endowment fund aims to have 100 million euros available for scientific research at Erasmus University. The first over 26 million euros have already been pledged by wealthy alumni and Rotterdam residents. “We are now hoping for a ‘solidarity effect’,” said president of the Executive Board Kristel Baele at the launch of the public campaign during the university’s Dies Natalis celebrations.
The revenue from the endowment fund is initially intended to fund scientific research in the field of health care, sustainable welfare and society in urban areas. It was notable that a number of donors also wanted to make money available for scholarships for students and PhD researchers. These requests will also be addressed.
Although the exact amounts donated by each donor have not been published, the donations range from several hundred thousand euros via 1 million to 5 million euros. In total, there are now around twenty donors. In the coming years, the fundraisers hope to reach the intended 100 million mark through a flywheel effect.
Van Beuningen family
Not all the generous alumni want to be named, but some were revealed during the Dies Natalis celebrations on Wednesday: Onno Ruding (former Minister of Finance and banker), Raymond Cloosterman and Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd (CEOs of Rituals and supermarket chain Jumbo respectively), Rob van Gansewinkel (Van Kaathoven Groep) and the Van Beuningen family. “The last family provides a rather interesting story,” says Michiel Muller, president of the Erasmus Trustfonds. “One of the ancestors of the Van Beuningen family was among the forty Rotterdam entrepreneurs who facilitated the foundation of the predecessor of Erasmus University in 1913. Through their contribution, history is repeating itself over a century later.”
Samenhang Erasmus Initiatives
‘This independent income flow enables us to do pioneering research, attract top academics to Rotterdam and support the best students with scholarships’
The donors were able to state their preference for research into the chosen themes of health care, sustainable welfare and society in urban areas, which not entirely coincidentally correspond with the Erasmus Initiatives the university presented last year during the Dies. “This independent income flow enables us to do pioneering research, attract top academics to Rotterdam and support the best students with scholarships. Not unimportant in times of declining government funding,” according to the university spokesperson.
During the Dies Natalis, the public campaign ‘Challenge accepted’ was launched to ask the approximately 100,000 less wealthy alumni to make a contribution to their alma mater. This included the launch of an online platform where alumni can find each other and come into contact with the current group of students.