The Dean’s Blog episode 1: the first two weeks
Some colleagues asked me what it is that a dean does all day and why he cannot simply do his fair share of teaching. This question is fully justified and this blog will try to give some insight into work and life of a dean (that, by the way, I am also curious about myself).
I am highly motivated and enthousiastic about making
Two weeks ago I started as dean of our Faculty of Law. After 25 years of teaching and research, I chose to devote the coming years to a position in which I will spend (almost) all of my time to leading the Faculty. This is not because I am fed up with teaching and research (that I will continue to do to some extent), but because I am also passionate about making our Faculty an even better institution than it already is. It is a privilege to be able to contribute, together with our Faculty Board and in close cooperation with our staff and students, to how our faculty will look like in 2022.
But setting the course is not the only thing a dean must do
Shortly after my appointment last summer a dean from another faculty told me that it is in particular the breadth of all possible topics that makes it attractive (and sometimes difficult) to be in this position. I can only say that I look tremendously forward to this.
This blog serves to keep our faculty community – students, staff and alumni – informed about some of the things I do. This is not to replace the Faculty Journal or website, but it does serve to add context to Faculty matters from a more personal perspective. Some colleagues asked me what it is that a dean does all day and why he cannot simply do his fair share of teaching. This question is fully justified and this blog will try to give some insight into work and life of a dean (that, by the way, I am also curious about myself).
Farewell party Hildegard Schneider
Meanwhile, the predictive words of my Maastricht colleague already fully materialised. The first fortnight was highly diverse indeed and made me even more enthusiastic for this new job. One important event was the farewell party of dean Prof. Hildegard Schneider on 30 November. In the last six years Hildegard led the Faculty in a wonderful and passionate manner. Under her deanship the Faculty took important steps forward. There first was the intimate farewell within the Faculty Board.
In the last six years Hildegard led the Faculty in a wonderful
Her official farewell two days later was impressive, with a reception in De Groote Sociëteit at the Vrijthof and a dinner party thereafter in Turkish restaurant Mandalin at the Kommel. The Tuna Universitaria de Maastricht accompanied her during the walk to the restaurant. It gave me great pleasure to address Hildegard in the afternoon on behalf of the Faculty community and to present her with a necklace from Oman. In the evening it was President Martin Paul who addressed her on behalf of the Executive Board to thank her for six years of dedication.
Another highlight in the first two weeks consisted of the two degree ceremonies I was allowed to lead on Saturday 2 and 9 December. I handed out the Master degree certificate to about 200 students. Our Faculty organises these events in the Saint Jan’s church at the Vrijthof. It requires a perfect organisation to lead all individual graduates past dean and photographer. But nothing can go wrong here thanks to the fantastic team consisting of Marlies van der Mee, Annemiek Brekelmans, Nikki Frenken and Esther Wijckerheld Bisdom. On these Saturdays, there is a special atmosphere anyway, also thanks to the great commitment of photographers Joey and Django, the security officers in the church, sexton Louis Eggerdink and our very own Henk and John organising the reception in our building. And then I did not yet mention our musicians.
When addressing the graduates, I told them – next to many other things – that it would nicely fit the Maastricht teaching system if, next to a member of staff, also a graduate would speak on behalf of the young masters of laws.
Now that we adopted the American habit of graduating in gown and cap, it seems only natural that we also take over the idea of a true commencement speech. I repeated this call six times (there were six different sessions), this may help to spread the word. We will look into how to organise such a student speech for future ceremonies. At the ceremony, I decided to wear the official Faculty chain.
Because what many of you may not know is that, next to the official Rector’s chain of the University, our Faculty has its own chain depicting the logo of the University and a Lady Justice. I will continue to wear this chain during future degree ceremonies, thus allowing the family members of our graduates to pimp their photos a bit.
The next blog will be devoted to a topic on which the Faculty Board would like to make important steps in the coming months: the Faculty strategy. First it is time to celebrate Christmas. I wish the entire Faculty community very happy holidays and a good start of 2018.
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