News - November 15, 2012

Bafflement at VHL over appointments

New supervisory board appoints Ellen Marks as interim board member. Employees' council says it is 'surprised'.

The new VHL supervisory board has immediately created a tense situation with the appointment of Ellen Marks and Rien Komen as interim board members. That is apparent from the response of the employees' council, which says it is 'surprised' by the appointment. Relations between the current director Ellen Marks and the employees' council turned sour in the period leading up to the break with Wageningen UR and have not yet recovered. The employees' council also wonders why it was not asked to advise on the appointment.
The new supervisory board was appointed by state secretary Henk Bleker on 2 November. He decided on former minister Agnes van Ardenne to chair the supervisors and appointed Rob Mooren (Arcadis) and Hein Pieper (water board) as domain experts. Pieper was appointed after being nominated by the employees' council, an indication that the new supervisory board wanted to keep in touch more with VHL staff.
After these appointments, the former VHL executive board (Aalt Dijkhuizen, Martin Kropff and Tijs Breukink) handed in their resignation, which meant the supervisors had to look for new executive board members straightaway. That takes time and the university of applied sciences needs an executive board, so the supervisory board appointed the VHL directors (Ellen Marks and Rien Komen) as a temporary executive board as of 9 November.
The applied university council is surprised by the appointment of the former directors, says secretary Dennis de Jager. The employees' council has the right to prior consultation on appointments of this nature but that did not happen. The issue is particularly sensitive as two years ago the employees' council had passed a vote of no confidence in Marks, and that breach has not been mended. Now Marks will be negotiating the VHL split with her former employer.
Split is definite
The appointment of a separate supervisory board and interim executive board means the administrative hiving off of VHL is definite. Now the university of applied sciences and Wageningen UR will have to negotiate on how to split the support services. For instance, VHL uses the ICT services of Wageningen UR while the VHL Wageningen location rents several floors in Forum as well as library services. A working group, with VHL director Rien Komen and Wageningen UR facilities director Peter Booman, has spent the past few months preparing for the split.