News - July 13, 2011

Staff and students stand up for Van Rooijen

'Stunned, angry and amazed'. That is how students and staff at Van Hall Larenstein in Velp feel. Yesterday - dressed in black for the occasion - they handed Aalt Dijkhuizen, Chairman of the Executive Board, a petition asked for the dismissal of programme director Hans van Rooijen to be reversed. Feelings were running high at the Larenstein country estate, where the divide between management and the rank and file has only grown deeper.

Aalt Dijkhuizen in discussion with staff at VHL Velp
Nearly four hundred students and staff at the University of Applied Science had signed the petition; fifty signatures had been collected within an hour from staff in Leeuwarden. They cannot understand why Van Rooijen has been dismissed when he runs a high-quality, financially sound degree programme (Forestry and Nature Management), explains Ad Olsthoorn, one of the petition initiators. 'They see this dismissal as an example of mismanagement by the managing director Ellen Marks. Hans has become the victim of this.' Earlier this year, Marks herself was the one in trouble because the Employees' Council had no confidence in her organizational capacities.
Dijkhuizen said Van Rooijen's untimely departure was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, nor was it an individual action by Ellen Marks. He said: 'There is every opportunity for people to have a say, down to the last detail. But once agreements have been made, they should be respected. If someone knowingly and wilfully does not do this, that's the end of the story.' According to Dijkhuizen, these agreements concerned the future of VHL, including the need to increase student numbers and improve student satisfaction.
One person in the audience complained to Dijkhuizen that no agreements had been made, only orders given. 'And if you can prove that an order is pointless, you don't have to carry it out.' Olsthoorn said it was 'tragic' that Van Rooijen was being kept to agreements that had not yet been laid down in policy. The plans still had to be assessed by the Employees' Council, 'which would definitely reject them', according to another person.
The students present noted that the complaints they have about teaching at VHL concern timetables and the IT facilities. 'The responsibility of the managing director.'
Dijkhuizen emphasized that VHL Velp 'is far too engrossed in its internal affairs' and that this was breaking up the vocational university. This remark was greeted by derisory laughter from the audience. They argued that it was precisely Ellen Marks's poor performance that was damaging VHL's reputation. They complained to Dijkhuizen that while he might hear their objections, he was not listening to them.