As interim dean, Van den Boom had been tasked with preparing a plan with recommendations for the future course to be taken of Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. She issued her definitive recommendation in late March: merge ESHCC with Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB). Three-quarters of ESHCC employees are against the merger, and there is also a great deal of resistance to the plan at ESSB. In contrast, the Executive Board backs the plan and is hoping to complete an ‘administrative merger’ by the end of the academic year.

“Van den Boom was appointed to provide recommendations for the future of the faculty. That job has been completed, so she’s now handing over the baton”, says university spokesman Jacco Neleman. The recommendation is currently under consideration by the faculty councils, the University Council, and the trade union consultation body EUROPA. “This decision-making phase was never a part of her mandate.”


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Assignment completed

Van den Boom has likewise stated that she is leaving because she has completed her assignment. “When I accepted this assignment it was clear that while I would issue a recommendation, someone else would be responsible for its execution. My task was to sketch out a number of scenarios, and the Executive Board has chosen the merger scenario. The decision-making process and execution of this merger will take a long time, and the purpose of my appointment was to think about strategy. As far as that’s concerned, the assignment was completed.”

There is significant opposition to the merger at ESHCC. “Part of my task was to get people to support the plan, but you can only do that effectively after the decision has been made. And that decision was only made last month. There’s always going to be opposition when people hear the words ‘merger’ or ‘reorganisation’. Those are words that scare people.”

Van den Boom recommends that discussions take place in which the details of the new faculty’s structure and organisation are given due consideration. “The Executive Board has made a positive gesture by stating it wants to invest in the merger. I believe the next step is for the Executive Board to sit down with the faculty to discuss in detail the opportunities and benefits created by a merger and what this investment agenda entails.”


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Faculty Council surprised

Van Den Boom’s unexpected departure comes as a surprise to the ESHCC Faculty Council. “During our previous faculty council meeting last week Monday, the dean said she was still working on a number of matters that required immediate attention at the faculty”, says council chair Ana Uribe Sandoval. “We’re now waiting to hear about the follow-up steps: we hope that her rapid departure won’t lead to a new fast-track appointment procedure that ignores the concerns and wishes of the faculty.”

There is currently no information on who will be the new ESHCC dean. “We’re going to look into appointing an acting dean”, says Neleman. “We hope we can say more about this soon, and we don’t expect it to take weeks before we have more information.”