Organisation - October 21, 2009

Go-ahead likely for new AFSG building

In the next few weeks it will become clear whether Nutrition and Biomolecular Sciences can soon move onto campus. 'If they still keep stringing us along, then I will really have had it up to here with that Board.'

Detail of a sketch of Wageningen campus in the future. The AFSG single location is drawn in on the Bornsesteeg, right behind the Restaurant of the Future.
These are weeks full of tension for the researchers currently working at the Dreijen. The Human Nutrition and Biomolecular Sciences chair groups want to move as soon as possible to a new building on campus. The decision about the new premises, a monolith like Forum and Atlas that will also house Toxicology and Microbiology, has already been postponed several times. The Executive Board will be considering the question on Monday and its decision will be submitted to the Supervisory Board for approval on 9 November.
Doing everything we can
Everything points towards a new building. The AFSG directors have already begun gathering information for a schedule of requirements for the new Food building. The technical details of the alternative have not yet been worked out. If the food scientists and chemists stay at the Dreijen, major modifications will have to be made to the aging Biotechnion building. The Board spokesman Simon Vink: 'It has to be feasible from the financial point of view, but we are doing everything we can to speed up the construction of a single location for AFSG.'
Frans Kok, Human Nutrition professor, has been advocating a move for years. 'We want to be housed together soon in a modern, presentable building with good facilities for food research. The review in the summer put Human Nutrition among the world leaders, we have the second largest course and our order book is overflowing. What more do we have to do, I wonder. I'm assuming they will decide on a new building.'
There is already a decision in principle dating from 2008. The conditions made then seem to have been met now. For instance, the research institutes (DLO) have healthy order books. Another condition was that the DLO half of AFSG should get its business operations in better shape; there have been improvements. What is more, interest rates are low. The new food premises will cost tens of millions of euros. It will be expensive to take out a loan if interest rates rise.
Budget Day
Finally, there were no nasty surprises on Budget Day. If the Cabinet had presented major spending cuts on university education and research, Wageningen UR would have had to put the brakes on. The Ministry of Agriculture did announce cuts but they apply to DLO only.
The move should go ahead as planned, says Nanne Groot, AFSG construction manager. 'I would be extremely surprised if the decision went the other way. Nutrition professor Frans Kok: 'It would be wonderful if it did go ahead this time, but I'll only believe it when I see it. If we get a different result again, then they really are stringing us along and I will really have had it up to here with that Board.'

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