The world-famous landscape architect Adriaan Geuze held his inaugural lecture on 22 February. In Dutch. Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol held conversations with Geuze regarding his oration. The Rector is of the opinion that inaugural lectures should be held in English.
© Guy Ackermans
Adriaan Geuze delivered his inaugural lecture in Dutch, although it is customary to do so in English. International attendants left the Aula prematurely.
Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol is clear: WUR has a significant international staff and many international students, and a Dutch oration does not fit in this context. ‘It has happened for a farewell lecture to be held in Dutch. However, that is an exception. I do get requests from prospective professors to hold an oration in Dutch. If there are no convincing arguments, it simply has to be held in English.’ Besides, the oration is recorded and broadcasted internationally via WUR TV, Mol says.
Mol held several conversations with Geuze on the subject prior to the landscape architect’s inaugural lecture. The latter states that he inquired on the phone what the usual course of an oration is and for whom the oration is meant. ‘I was told: invite family and friends. With those people in mind, I told a story, partially ad hoc. It was about the development of the Dutch landscape. For this story, I needed several expressions and wordplays, and I was unsure to be able to convey their subtleties in English. What more, I was not the first to hold an oration in Dutch.’
Mol eventually let himself be persuaded. ‘As Rector, I have the final decision about whether it may be held in Dutch. Geuze convinced me with his language issue, but under the condition that the slides would be in English.’
Every prospective professor receives a protocol booklet well ahead of the oration. This booklet contains various facts about the different types of professorships, the dress code, the duration and level of the oration, dos and don’ts, and the language: ‘The language is preferably in English, but sometimes in Dutch with English annotated slides (or vice versa).’