Van den Boom, Professor of General Educational Theory, served as Rector Magnificus of the University of Amsterdam from 2007 to 2017. According to NRC, about one quarter of her maiden speech in 2007 was a literal copy of an opening address by a lecturer from Maastricht, whom she did not cite as a source. This was no isolated incident: in all her other Foundation Day addresses, with the exception of those in 2010 and 2011, Van den Boom copied paragraphs without citing the source.
The newspaper also discovered several copied sections of text in Van den Boom’s graduation thesis dating from 1988 on highly sensitive babies. In 1995, Van den Boom and a co-author corrected a scientific article that they wrote, because 23 line were said to have been copied from another article.
As Rector, Van den Boom worked on stricter fraud and plagiarism rules. In 2008, a year after her partly-plagiarised maiden speech, she said in an interview with Vrij Nederland magazine: “Imitators will be exposed.” From 2014, all theses at the university were scanned for plagiarism. When she left the university in 2017, more than half of her farewell speech was plagiarised.
In a reaction to the NRC article, Van den Boom herself said that different rules apply for Foundation Day addresses and policy documents than from those for scientific publications. She also claimed that other rectors deal with sources in the same way in speeches.
The University of Amsterdam is appointing a committee to investigate whether there has been any violation of the rules for scientific integrity.
Van den Boom became interim dean of the ESHCC in March 2018. She was assigned to write a future vision for the faculty, which resulted in an advisory report recommending a merger with the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB). She faced considerable resistance to that advice within her own faculty: three quarters of the staff expressed opposition to the merger. The Faculty Council has now also issued an official negative recommendation. Van den Boom unexpectedly left the faculty last week, stating that her advisory report was complete and with that, so was her assignment.