Prof. H.J. (Johan) Witteveen embarked on a degree at the Netherlands School of Economics, which later became Erasmus University, in 1939. He was awarded a cum-laude PhD for a thesis entitled Loonshoogte en werkgelegenheid: Poging tot een synthese tusschen theorie en empirisch onderzoek [Wage Level and Employment: An Attempt to Create a Synthesis between Theoretical Knowledge and Empirical Research] on 23 January 1947. His supervisor was the later Nobel laureate Jan Tinbergen. Less than two years later, aged 27, Witteveen was appointed Professor of Economics. In 1951 and 1952 he served as Erasmus University’s Rector Magnificus.
Minister of Finance
In the late 1950s Witteveen entered the Dutch Senate as a VVD representative. In 1963, after serving as an MP in the Lower House for just one month, he was appointed Minister of Finance in the Marijnen Cabinet. When the cabinet resigned in 1965, he returned to the Lower House. He served as Minister of Finance (and Deputy Prime Minister) a second time in the De Jong Cabinet (1967-1971), in which capacity he introduced VAT in 1969. Between 1973 and 1978 he served as the Chairman of the International Monetary Fund.
Saying goodbye after half a century
More than half a century after leaving EUR, Witteveen gave his farewell address in May 2014, during the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Erasmus School of Economics. Two months earlier, his son Raoul had presented the university with a bronze bust of the former rector created by the then 93-year-old sculptor and fashion illustrator Constance Wibaut. The sculpture can be found in the Erasmus Building, next to the wall featuring the portraits of the professors near the Senate Hall.