“Today we are writing history in Rotterdam”, said Van der Duijn Schouten about the appointment of the first female rector magnificus at the Erasmus University. Although he did not want to dwell on that fact for too long. “It would be a shame if it distracted us from how qualified she is.”

Goodbye, part 1

Too often Van der Duijn Schouten said goodbye and subsequently stayed at Erasmus University. That’s why, just to be sure, he called his farewell speech ‘Final reflections, part 1’. At EUR, besides being interim rector, he has been interim dean of no less than three faculties: the Erasmus School of Philosophy (ESPhil), the Erasmus School of Economics, and the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication.

There were two things he wanted to pass on to the Rotterdam academic world. The first was in the shape of a question: “Is the way in which we have structured the Erasmus University still adequate to facilitate the shift towards a more interdisciplinary orientation?” The second was a warning about scientific integrity. “Nothing in the scientific world runs as fast as rumour, even false rumour”, he said. In his opinion, dismissed cases of integrity issues should be closed by a public statement from the rector that the scientist in question is not at issue.

Grandchild steals the show

Frank van der Duijn Schouten rectoraatoverdracht foto Ronald van den Heerik (1)
Grandchild Chris hands the outgoing rector a bottle of water. Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

Without diminishing guest speaker Jack Vromen, professor of Philosophy, or the old and new rector, in any way, a grandson of Van der Duijn Schouten was the star of the show. After his grandfather had forgotten to take a bottle of water with him, grandson Chris was allowed to bring it to the podium. And he immediately got a loud ‘aaaah’ from the audience and then applause.

“When I invited my children and grandchildren to attend this event, one of them came up and asked if he should also attend the ‘boring’ part of the ceremony,” the former interim rector himself said about the presence of his (mainly comic book-reading) grandchildren. “I suspect that he had my contribution in mind. My response was positive, with the addition that he did not have to listen, but he did have to stay awake.”

Recognising and valuing differently

Annelien Bredenoord rectoraatoverdracht foto Ronald van den Heerik (3)
Bredenoord during her speech Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

“We need cross-thinkers,” Bredenoord said in her speech during which she wore the light blue stole of the Rotterdam philosophy faculty for the first time. “Cross-thinkers like Erasmus.”Erasmus, according to Bredenoord, characterised a period of transition, and in her opinion we are facing such a period again when it comes to industrialisation, geopolitics and the transition from exhausting the earth to ecohumanism. It is the university’s task to train a generation of new world citizens and responsible leaders, Bredenoord said.

In her speech, the new rector talked about three points for which she will work: to be at the forefront of impact through interdisciplinary work, to recognise and value scientists differently, and to further explore the digitisation of the university. “The world is literally at our feet”, she said. Speakers from all over the world can be asked for lectures without unnecessary emissions. Recognising and valuing differently is the way to ‘give space to everyone’s talent’, Bredenoord said. She spoke of more attention, quality over quantity and a ‘more diverse and inclusive way of recognising’. She also sees this different way of working as an opportunity to tackle the high work pressure in the academic world.


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