Aalt Dijkhuizen received the highest royal honour during his farewell event on 13 February; he was appointed a Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Clemens Cornielje, the king’s commissioner in Gelderland, handed him the honour. ‘Excellence is an attitude, not a form of address, for Aalt Dijkhuizen,’ said Cornielje.
Henk Kamp, the minister for Economic Affairs, was the first to congratulate Dijkhuizen. Kamp praised Dijkhuizen’s achievement in turning Wageningen into an internationally respected centre of knowledge and revealed that Dijkhuizen would be succeeding FrieslandCampina boss Cees ’t Hart as the head of the Agrofood top sector.
Next, ’t Hart and rector Martin Kropff talked about the significance of the top sectors in the Golden Triangle the cooperation between science institutions, the government and the business community aimed at bolstering innovation and the Netherlands’ competitive position. A series of leading lights from government, the private sector and science institutions, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, applauded Aalt Dijkhuizen’s achievements in a video message.
Dijkhuizen is seen as the leader who turned the moribund university in Wageningen into an internationally acclaimed scientific institution. His ability to switch smoothly between the worlds of government, academia and commerce also enabled him to set up numerous research and innovation programmes, noted Kamp. Kropff praised Dijkhuizen’s effort and persistence in getting plans translated into action.