The Executive Board expects to come to a decision regarding the merger in mid-April. But first, the Dean of Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Victor Bekkers, will be given time to respond. “After weighing that perspective, the Executive Board will issue a proposed decision”, said the board. “The scenario will then be developed in further detail.”

A ‘more robust’ ESHCC

Since her appointment a year ago, interim Dean Van den Boom has been working on plans for a ‘more robust’ Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC). The former UvA Rector Magnificus was charged with this task upon commencing with her appointment in Rotterdam. She developed three possible future scenarios: remaining independent, merging with Philosophy, or merging with Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB). During the Faculty Council meeting this past Monday, it emerged that in the interim Dean’s opinion, neither of the first two scenarios is actually a viable option.

The vast majority of ESHCC employees have a completely different take on the merger plans. Three-quarters of ESHCC employees have stated they oppose a merger with ESSB. Employees want their faculty to remain independent and would very much like to develop their own plan to make that possible. “A plan that builds on the strengths, potential, and commitment of the ESHCC community is far more likely to contribute to a thriving future of both our School and University than a merger which is forced upon us top-down”, say the employees.

Merger would benefit education and research

In a press release, the Executive Board outlined the many benefits it feels a merger would bring. “First of all, in the Executive Board’s view, a merger of ESHCC and ESSB would generate significant possibilities for collaboration in research and education. The research disciplines of both faculties complement and enhance each other in terms of their subject matter.” The merger would make it possible to develop new programmes. “That’s in the interests of students and staff as well as the social agenda as a whole.

According to the Executive Board, if the merger goes ahead, this would be consistent with the university’s new strategy. Combining the disciplines of ESSB and ESHCC would raise Erasmus University’s profile significantly in the area of humanities and social sciences. That would give us a stronger position both in the Netherlands and internationally. A stronger position is especially important when it comes to obtaining research funding.” The Executive Board hopes that such a development would make EUR more attractive to top international talent.