By Laura Galante and Luuk van der Sterren
— Geert ter Dam and Karen Maex will join the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS/HvA*) and University of Amsterdam (UvA) Executive Board (College van Bestuur, CvB) effective June 1. This was confirmed in an e-mail sent by the Internal Communication department to students and staff this Monday.
Geert ter Dam, currently the Professor of Education at UvA, has been appointed president of the CvB. The function has been vacant since Louise Gunning’s departure in April last year. Karen Maex, currently serving as Dean of both UvA’s and Free University’s (VU) Science faculties, will become the new Rector Magnificus of UvA and HvA.
The appointment of the two new CvB members could have significant consequences for AUC. Currently, the UvA Rector Magnificus is a member of the AUC board. Among other tasks, this board manages AUC’s finances and human resources, approves and implements AUC’s Academic Standards and Procedures, establishes the Board of Examiners and Board of Studies, and provides an annual plan and budget.
Apart from the UvA rector, the AUC board consists of the Rector Magnificus of VU, who acts as chair; the AUC Dean, and an AUC student representative. However, this construction may change soon. According to Dr. Murray Pratt, Dean of AUC, “the indications are that the revised governance structures will bring AUC under the remit of the Dean of the Science faculties of both universities, who will be supported by a Board of Deans.”
With Karen Maex leaving her position as Dean of the VU/UvA Science faculties, the question is what this means for the organization of AUC’s governance. As it is now, Maex, whom Pratt calls “a strong supporter of AUC in her current roles,” would join the board as UvA Rector Magnificus. In the revised structure, the new Dean(s) of the Science faculties would join the board instead. It is not known as of yet whether the Science faculties will have one joint Dean, as they do currently, or two individual ones. Furthermore, there is no indication so far who the new Dean(s) would be.
The news of Maex’s and Ter Dam’s impending appointment to the CvB was first leaked by NRC Next two weeks ago. The leak was part of a breaking story announcing the resignation of Hans Amman, vice chair of the CvB. On that same day, Atzo Nicolaï, president of the UvA and HvA Supervisory Boards, confirmed the news of Amman’s resignation in an email sent to all UvA/HvA students and staff. Nicolaï further said that Amman would “step down by 1 September at the latest”, but on Monday, the UvA Supervisory Board revised that statement and said that Amman would stay on until January 1, 2017.
Amman’s prolonged membership in the CvB reflects the managerial unrest within UvA’s governance structure. Currently, an external consultancy agency is looking at the cooperation between UvA and HvA management. If the agency decides that this cooperation is no longer viable, the CvB will likely be split into two separate boards. In light of this possibility, Maex and Ter Dam’s appointment is open-ended, rather than the usual 4-year term.
Hans Amman became vice president of the CvB in February 2014, taking charge of the UvA and HvA real estate portfolio. It is still unknown who will replace him in that role, leaving UvA and HvA’s future financial and real estate policies uncertain. Saskia Baas, AUC professor and member of the Teacher Work Council, voiced her concern over UvA’s budget distribution. “Some argue that the university’s investment in real estate has left less money for teaching and research,” she said. “Universities are appointing more people to temporary contracts. Some have been teaching for years on temporary contracts and their contribution to the university is not valued enough.”
In his response to the NRC Next story, Nicolaï said that he was “not at liberty to make any further announcements” until the new board members were appointed. As the appointment has now happened, it is expected that these further announcements will follow soon.
*The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is called “Hogeschool van Amsterdam”, or HvA, in Dutch.