Science - May 12, 2005

Ethology to close

The Ethology chair group will close for good in September, the executive board decided this week after consultation with the representative council. The University of Utrecht has been asked to take over the group’s teaching.

‘It is very sad, but we will have to do without ethology. The problems were of such a serious a nature that we had no other option,’ said rector Professor Bert Speelman. The closure of the department is the final chapter in a turbulent period, during which two professors came into conflict with a large number of members of staff. The differences led to the departure last year of Professor Berry Spruijt.

According to the rector, after that it soon became clear that ‘there was no longer the possibility that the employees would be able to agree on their differences.’ At present there are just two employees left, and the options for alternative employment are currently being explored.

Speelman has said that students will not suffer from the closure of the chair group. ‘The sciences faculty at Utrecht has agreed to take over the teaching.’ This solution carefully avoids the former Wageningen professor Spruijt, who is now full-time chair of Ethology in the Utrecht faculty of veterinary medicine.
Spruijt is surprised: ‘It’s a shame, as far as I’m concerned. Now they’re going round the corner, but the friction was never in the field of teaching. This is about the students, and I don’t share the lecture theatre with Speelman.’ / GvM

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