The university wants to move a number of academic ceremonies such as graduations from the Aula in the town centre to a planned Dialogue Centre on the campus.
The Aula on the Generaal Foulkesweg dates back to 1935 and is a municipal monument. When the main auditorium is full, the building no longer meets fire safety standards, says Executive Board spokesperson Simon Vink. The Aula is also outdated because it doesn’t have enough rooms or adequate catering facilities. ‘We need more and better spaces.’
The new Dialogue Centre on the campus is intended to be a multifunctional building for meetings between students, teachers, entrepreneurs, politicians, executives and civil society organizations. A place, explains Vink, where the university and the other campus residents can hold debates, seminars and official functions, including academic ceremonies. The Aula cannot offer that at present.
It has not been decided whether the university will sell off the Aula. ‘Perhaps it could be used for other purposes and maybe a few PhD defences and graduation ceremonies will still be held there,’ says Vink. ‘We need to think about that.’
It was announced in March this year that the Dutch government will put 1.6 million euros towards the Dialogue Centre on the campus. One of the government’s objectives is to stimulate the development of Wageningen Campus. It is not clear yet how much the new centre – to be located between Unilever’s new building and Atlas – will cost. The call to tender is in preparation. Vink doesn’t know yet when the Dialogue Centre will be up and running