As 1997 draws to a close we look back at the events which coloured the year here in Wageningen
The Dutch weather is normally quite moderate, but the beginning of 1997 saw temperatures of minus fifteen to twenty degrees Celsius in Wageningen. Bad news for the international students, but also for the fish which got frozen into the ice in the town's waterways. The good news was that the famous 200-kilometre skating competition Elfstedentocht was held for the first time in more than ten years
Wageningen sociologist Norman Long was placed second in the citation index for sociologists in the Netherlands. Long, one of the few foreign professors at the University, is the initiator of the actor oriented approach, a method for studying power relations in and underlying formal structures
WAU's international education celebrated its 25th anniversary in January. What started modestly as a small-scale activity with the Soil and Water Programme has grown to fifteen MSc courses with a total of over 400 students. Dean Ankie Lamberts: We used to have the Christmas party at my place, but since 1988 there have been too many students to fit in my house. I've now got to the point where it's difficult to know all the students by name.
Meanwhile the University is still not sure about how to integrate the MSc courses into its regular programmes. The aim is to offer more regular courses in English, so that mixed groups of Dutch and international students can attend them, but progress is hampered by language problems and differences in background knowledge
Agronomist Louise Fresco was appointed director of the Research Extension and Training Division at the FAO. In her farewell interview she stressed the importance of integrated research
The University Food Sciences departments initiated cooperation with the Dutch food industry in the form of a Leading Technological Institute. With a budget of 25 million guilders the institute will consist of a director, three programme directors, twelve senior researchers, forty post-doctorate students and PhD students, 35 technicians and nine staff members. One consequence of this development was that food company Nutricia moved its research laboratory to Wageningen
The WAU coordinator of the Plant, Soil and Water programme in Mozambique returned home earlier than planned when he received death threats if he didn't pay money. The coordinator was responsible for the financial running of the programme. The programme was ended later in the year
Plant cloning is big business in Europe. A platform of European researchers, headed by WAU molecular biologist Sacco de Vries was awarded 24 million guilders to conduct research on plant embryo development
The Wageningen student union expressed its solidarity with the Serbian students demonstrating for a democratic state in Belgrade. The Serbian students attended a week of seminars and training in Wageningen and four WAU students cycled to Belgrade to raise money for their colleagues. It took them three weeks, and on the way back they blocked a Serbian train for three quarters of an hour to avoid being separated from their bikes
Georg Frerks was appointed professor of Disaster Management. As an employee of Jan Pronk, Minister of International Cooperation, Frerks will study disaster and war prevention, and the rehabilitation of war zones. Disasters have a severe effect on the results of development programmes, the new professor stated
Microbiologists Ad van Egeraat made an unusual contribution to an unusual fashion show in Rotterdam: clothes treated with fungi. I don't understand why people pay so much money for this stuff.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a cup of coffee at the University, since the catering division removed half of the coffee vending machines. The number of private coffee-makers in the rooms of staff is on the increase
Scientists and managers in Wageningen go to work by bike, not by car. So it was a big shock to quite a few members of staff when they learnt that the three members of the University Board had got themselves a car with a driver and mobile phone
Far away from home and Christmas is coming. While most Dutch students leave Wageningen to spend Christmas with their families, international MSc and PhD students have to think of something else to do
Many international students use the time to travel through Europe, according to Jeanine Hermans of the Dean's Office. Some people just get together in Wageningen, or are invited to celebrate Christmas with their contact families here, but unfortunately a number still end up alone in their rooms.
The colder it is the more lonely people feel, is Hermans' experience. Many people think that the cold weather is unhealthy and that it will make them sick if they go outside. So if you're already feeling miserable and missing your family, all you want to do is stay inside where it's warm.
Although Christmas is not a festival which is celebrated by everybody it is a time of festivity. Hermans: You can also call it season's greetings, or celebrate the coming new year. The Islamic festival of Ramadan also starts early next year. Whatever the reason it's a good time to have a party.
Special committee for international students
Professor Bert Speelman, Vice Rector and Director of Education wants a special committee for international students which would advise the University Board on matters concerning international students. He wants three members of the International Students Panel (ISP) together with the Vice Rector, a representative from the Student Council and the Dean for international students to meet regularly for discussions
ISP has already made a pledge to ensure that there is official representation for international students. The latter wanted a seat on the Dutch student representative council, but practical problems necessitated a different solution. The council meets in Dutch and elections are usually held in May, which is before international students arrive. ISP requested that a seat be reserved for international students on the council, but the University Board refused, afraid that other minority groups will then also demand representation
ISP is now satisfied with the proposal, and ISP president Charles Etze is also pleased with his relation with the Rector, Professor Cees Karssen. We can always walk into his office, and he is very interested in our problems. ISP wanted official representation to ensure continuity and that the voice of the international students is heard in the future