The WAU has insufficient money to implement its two-year old Chair Plan. The Board now wants to freeze nine chairs until 2000. Among them are the chairs in Agricultural History, Agricultural Education and Geographical Information Systems. More technical chairs in the area of food processing, molecular biology and nematology will be introduced sooner. The Board is now awaiting the advice of the University Council on this matter.
At the same time the University Board intends to merge the seventy WAU departments into ten big ones. The concentration is aimed at linking the policies and managerial affairs of the departments at a higher level. Several department members are criticising the proposed division into ten units, because it doesn't concentrate the university's quality in the fields of molecular and environmental sciences.
Foreign graduates may have met Gert van Ginkel in the university's auditorium. He assists with the microphone and slide projections during graduation ceremonies. I always tell graduates: come early with your slides. Then we can have a try-out and I will explain how you can operate the projector yourself." Nerves can spoil a smooth presentation with the equipment, Van Ginkel has found. He once met a man who wanted him to present his slides. I said: no, you have to do it yourself! Then it turned out he was a Very Important Person, a secretary of state. How could I know?"
More and more attention is being given to spirituality in science. A number of students and staff think that traditional Enlightenment-based science is no longer sufficient to solve environmental problems. Not only intellectual belief, but also the instinctive experience is important, says sociologist Prof. I. Weeda. She changed her research on gender issues to spirituality and explains: For me spirituality means love-energy." Sixty eight other scientists give different definitions of spirituality in a book on the subject. Integration of the ideas is a bridge too far at the moment," admits Weeda.
The use of information technology (IT) in WAU's education is not growing very quickly. Pilot projects have been initiated, but are not spreading unchecked. Some lecturers are hesitant about experimenting with IT, because it could mean that they would be replaced by computers. But this is not the case, explains a project manager. Students still want to communicate about a subject and when they are able to collect information through IT, the lecturer can really concentrate on discussion and personal supervision.