With effect from 1 September, Annelien Bredenoord will step down as rector to become president of the Executive Board. That position will become vacant because Ed Brinksma is retiring. He wants to spend more time with family and friends. Brinksma was also rector before his appointment in Rotterdam, but at the University of Twente.

Bredenoord was professor of Ethics of Biomedical Innovation at University Medical Center Utrecht and Utrecht University for many years, as well as D66 parliamentary party leader in the Senate. On 1 October 2021, Bredenoord became rector, making her the first woman in that role at Erasmus University Rotterdam. However, she will not be the first female president of EUR’s Executive Board.

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Universities have been choosing presidents with academic backgrounds more often in recent years. At Maastricht University, for example, Rianne Letschert also moved from rector to president of the Executive Board. Bredenoord is excited to continue building the future of EUR, but as Executive Board president and thus ‘with a greater focus on general political-administrative matters, strategy and external affairs’. “I consider it a great honour to become Executive Board president at our wonderful university in dynamic Rotterdam.”


The Supervisory Board is equally happy: “Annelien is an authentic leader with a clear vision and decisiveness, but also a team player who is good at reflecting and giving space to others. Her talent and strength are an excellent fit for the role of Executive Board president”, Jaap Winter, chair of the Supervisory Board, said in a written response.

The Executive Board of Erasmus University with, from left to right, Ellen van Schoten, Ed Brinksma and Annelien Bredenoord. Image credit: EUR

One of the three members of the Executive Board will remain in place: the Supervisory Board reappointed Ellen van Schoten. Her portfolio encompasses the university’s operational management. Her responsibilities include sustainability, IT, HR and finance.

New rector

Like her predecessor, Bredenoord will not complete her term as rector. The last rector to complete his term was Huib Pols. He started as rector in 2013 and retired in 2018. His successor Rutger Engels quit after two-and-a-half years ‘for personal reasons’. The coronavirus pandemic had made him reconsider how he could best contribute, he said at the time. “I came to the conclusion that there’s a huge need to improve mental health policies and interventions, especially for adolescents and young adults.” In the months between Engels’ and Bredenoord’s terms, Frank van der Duijn Schouten was rector on an interim basis.

Nothing is known as yet about Bredenoord’s successor. The Supervisory Board said it would ‘start the recruitment and selection procedure very soon’.