Dies lecture by Paul van der Heijden: Working for the University
Departing Rector Magnificus/President of the Executive Board Paul van der Heijden had the honour of delivering the 2013 Dies lecture. He briefly reviewed the metamorphoses the university has undergone over the past fifty years, ending with the ‘network university’ of 2013. Three Honorary Doctorates were conferred and the rectorship and presidency were transferred to fellow legal scholar Carel Stolker.
‘Working for the University’ was the title of Van der Heijden's Dies lecture. It is a theme that can be interpreted in three different ways: what does it mean to work for the university as an academic or in any other capacity, what can you do to work towards the success of the university? And what does that mean in terms of labour law?
Van der Heijden illustrated what it is like to work for the university based on a number of ‘campus novels’, novels that present an ironic picture or a caricature of the university environment. Swedish author Helene Uri recently published a novel that is set in an institute at the University of Oslo: ‘The university is an inadequately sterilised preserving jar (…) It is in a state of chronic botulism.’
Universities has changed dramatically since the fifties, commented Van der Heijden. From the professorial university where professors were at the helm, the university transformed in the seventies into the democratic university and under pressure from cutbacks in the eighties into the bureaucratic university. The nineties were the era of the bureaucratic university with ‘professionals in the lead’ and a greater distance from the state. And now we have the network university that stands for partnerships both within and beyond the university, both national and international. ‘Working for the network university is all senses of the word a privilege, a pleasure and a source of great fulfilment.’ And what does it mean in terms of labour law? ‘The 20th-century CLA needs a 21st-century facelift.’ After stepping down as Rector and President, labour law specialist Van der Heijden is looking forward to working on bringing the CLA into the 21st century.
Honorary Doctorates were awarded to arabists and historians Patricia Crone and Michael Cook from Princeton University, to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the chair of Arabic in Leiden. Crone and Cook have published for more than three decades on the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. Petra Sijpesteijn, Professor of Arabic Language and Culture at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies, was Honorary Supervisor.
An Honorary Doctorate was also awarded to translator Rien Verhoef. He has translated works by well-known Anglo-Saxon authors such as Nabokov, Faulkner and Mc Ewan. In his word of thanks he stressed the modest place occupied by translators: the crawl space of literature. ‘That the room is so tastefully decorated is also a credit to their skills, only the reader should be unaware of their presence.’ Colin Ewen, Professor of English Linguistics at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, was Honorary Supervisor.
After the conferral of the Honorary Doctorates, Martin Baasten received the 2013 LSR Teaching Prize. This was followed by the handing over of the attributes of rectorship: Paul van der Heijden removed the Rector’s chain of office of and placed this around the neck of Carol Stolker. Nout Wellink, Chairman of the Board of Governors, then spoke. ‘You are not just leaving behind a house in good order, you have also brought about important improvements and restructuring. You can be proud of what you have achieved,’ he said. He mentioned the improvements in the governance structure, the healthy finances, the transformation of Campus The Hague into a faculty, the new, attractive degree programmes, the strategic alliances that Leiden University has entered into and the clear choices in research that puts Leiden among the world’s top research institutions. Wellink wished Carol Stolker every success in his new post.
Finally, Wellink unveiled the portrait of Van der Heijden, painted by fine artist Ger Eikendal. Tradition dictates that that a portrait is made of the outgoing Rector Magnificus. Van der Heijden’s portrait will join those of previous Rectors exhibited in the stairwell of the Academy Building.
Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, arrived straight from the Council of Ministers, to express special thanks to Van der Heijden. Bussemaker referred to the many occasions on which they have met, referring to their shared love of science. She also described Van der Heijden’s exceptional career: ‘You have done a great deal both for science and for labour law. Many thanks.’
Finally, it was the turn of the new Rector Magnificus and President, Carel Stolker. Stolker praised Van der Heijden for his achievements, already mentioned by Wellink: ‘All these changes and additions to the Leiden palette were much needed, and were often copied by sister institutions. You are a true leader: you understand the signs of the times, you steer a straight course, and get results. And you expect the same of those around you. The list of areas where you have made a real difference is simply unbelievable.’