The memorial service started half an hour later than scheduled on Wednesday due to a torrential downpour. When the rain subsided a little, forty people huddled under ten umbrellas, and among them were many female academics.

Fight for equal opportunities

One of the speakers at the memorial service was Hanneke Takkenberg of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO).

According to Takkenberg, who helped Bevelander establish the ECWO, the idea of planting a tulip tree was inspired by Bevelander’s own vision. Takkenberg said that by establishing the ECWO, Bevelander wanted to plant a seed from which a tree would grow from which future generations of female academics would be able to reap the fruits. She fought for female academics’ rights throughout her career.

Takkenberg also issued an apology. “Dianne liked to be contrary and do things without asking for permission first. That personality trait was infectious. So I’m sorry we asked for the university’s permission to plant this tree,” she said jokingly. The memorial service committee had in fact requested the university’s permission; Takkenberg merely mentioned contrariness to illustrate Bevelander’s character.

Colourful character

Another speaker was Kirsten Rohde, the chairwoman of FAME (Female Academics Moving towards Equality), who presented Bevelander with the FAME Award in 2019 for all the work she had done.

Rohde, too, painted a picture of Bevelander as an authentic and colourful character who challenged some of her own beliefs. “We should not be focusing on how women can best meet the accepted standards. I, too, once believed that I should try to fit in. Thankfully, she helped me see myself in a different light.”

The attendees concluded the service by covering the tulip tree’s roots with soil while the South African dance hit ‘Jerusalema’ was playing in the background.