Professors Marten Scheffer and Willem M. de Vos have been appointed as distinguished professors of Wageningen University. They are the first to receive this new honorary title.
Distinguished professors are the head figures of WUR and prominent names within their field. The Executive Board wants to use their expertise and position by involving them in tasks at the strategic level. This new position means they have to withdraw from their position as chair holder. According to rector magnificus Arthur Mol, Scheffer and De Vos will ‘think along about our scientific priority areas, our positioning in the world and quality assurance.’
Professor in Microbiology De Vos was ‘happily surprised’ by his new honorary position, which ‘completes’ his 32-year-long career as a professor. ‘Last year, when the chair group Microbiology was celebrating the centenary, I already indicated that I aimed at stepping down as chair holder.’ According to him, this new position is a great continuation. De Vos already received the first tangible assignment in his new role. ‘I will be chair of the appointment advisory committee for professors holding a personal chair.’
Scheffer sees his appointment as ‘an honourable development’. He answers by e-mail, as he is on a business trip to South America. ‘The idea is for me to be involved in the connecting processes within our university. This ties in beautifully with my interest which has continuously grown over the years – perhaps even into an obsession – in connecting various branches of science with each other and with art.’
Scheffer and De Vos withdraw from their position as chair holders. But that does not mean they will not be involved in research anymore. De Vos: ‘A large Gravitation project will run for another five years. I will keep guiding PhD candidates and postdocs and publishing within this project. Furthermore, I am also involved is various start-ups.’ ‘I will remain with the group’, says Scheffer. ‘But I will obviously have less time for the chair group when I will be working for the university in a broader scope.’
The successors to Scheffer and De Vos as chair holders have already been appointed. Their names will be announced shortly.