Nanne de Vries Professor's Fund: "It wasn't my idea"

On April 10, 2024, the Professor's Fund was officially renamed the Nanne de Vries Professor's Fund. In an exclusive interview with the UFL, Nanne de Vries shares insights into the history, future, and his personal motivations regarding the fund that now bears his name. "In 2013, Piet Eichholtz and I started with a simple question to our colleagues: would you like to donate a portion of your compensation to the University Fund Limburg?" De Vries recalls how the motivating response from the UM community marked the beginning of the fund.

Supporting the next generation of scientists

Since its inception, the fund has been dedicated to supporting talented young academics in their research and studies. This includes funding for students looking to turn their thesis into a scientific publication or expand their network through visits to foreign universities. Annually, the fund also awards the dissertation prize for the best thesis.

Giving back to young scientific talent

According to De Vries, supporting young scientists is crucial because established researchers often have sufficient funds to develop their research: “Professors often receive money for lectures or television appearances,” he explains. “You can deposit that money into your private account - although almost no one does that - or into the faculty's account, but you can also give it to a good cause like the Professor's Fund.” He illustrates with a quick calculation how contributions of €1000 per year per professor can add up to almost 400,000 euros, destined for developing academic talent and new research.

Commitment to the fund and UM community

Despite his recent retirement, De Vries remains actively involved with the fund. "Although I am taking a step back now, I remain connected to the fund and the academic community," he explains. He says it's because he "likes to get involved in everything anyway." And, because he enjoys it. Moreover, as he emphasizes: “my social network largely consists of UM employees.”

Last year, De Vries received both the Tans Medal and the MUMC+ award for his contributions to both institutions. According to De Vries, the real appreciation was shown by the presence of no less than 108 professors during his farewell speech: “that was just very beautiful. And not just from my own faculty! Seeing them come in those gowns, that made me proud.”

Text continues below the photo.

Omdoping van het Nanne de Vries Hooglerarenfonds

A committed personality

So De Vries remains committed, even though he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer last year. “I'm doing well,” De Vries says. It's also not like him to sit still. He served on the board of the MUMC+, was a hockey coach, dealt with diversity and inclusion at the university. Nowadays, you can find him behind the cash register at the outdoor pool in Meerssen in the summer: "I can spare an hour per week, and that way it'll keep going a bit."

If everyone gives a small part, we can achieve great things for our young scientists
Nanne de Vries

Call to colleagues and vision for the future

De Vries uses this interview to call on all (emeritus) professors to contribute to the fund. "If everyone gives a small part, we can achieve great things for our young scientists," he motivates his colleagues. He emphasizes that the name change is more than just a symbolic gesture; it is a renewal of the promise to continue supporting young scientific talent at Maastricht University.

He also mentions that it wasn't his idea to name the fund after him; “mention in the interview that it wasn't my idea, I was convinced by the director of the University Fund!”

Want to know more about the Nanne de Vries Professor's Fund?
Read more >

Also read

  • Maastricht University takes care of many distinctive buildings that we all know. By giving them a new purpose, we preserve these icons and give them a new meaning, making them the vibrant heart of a bustling city. 

  • What does it mean to live and work in a city with an international university? When do you notice the university, and how does it benefit you? We asked  Marcell Ignéczi. He came to South Limburg to study at Maastricht University’s Department for Knowledge Engineering, Marcell Ignéczi went on to co...

  • As a patient in a hospital, you see many different faces at your bedside every day: a nurse measuring your blood pressure, a doctor or nurse practitioner informing you about the care plan, and a nutritionist providing you with the right food and drinks. Although all these caregivers have their own...