Organisation - January 25, 2018

How can we keep WUR visible?

Yvonne de Hilster

In his New Year Speech, the Mayor of Wageningen Geert van Rumund said WUR should remain a visible presence in the city. Teaching has already been concentrated on campus; it worries him that the ceremonies are going to follow suit. WUR has Wageningen in its name, so live up to it, says the Mayor. Good point?

text Yvonne de Hilster illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

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Geert van Rumund, Mayor of Wageningen
‘‘I raised the subject of the Aula in my New Year speech because it means something to a lot of people. Nijmegen faced the same situation back in the late 1980s, and the university’s departure from the Aula in the city centre there was traumatic. The idea of WUR moving out of the Aula doesn’t feel good. Even just the signboard in front of it has symbolic importance. And I see the city as one big campus. We belong together. Students enrich the city, and WUR’s research and education on issues such as climate, food and conflict management relates to Wageningen as the Liberation City. Also, a physical presence in the city challenges WUR to do things there all year round. I’d say, combine it with a meeting place for contact with and between international students. And the real world is more diverse than the campus. It would be a great boon for both the university and for the city if that physical connection remained.’

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Sjaak Driessen, director bblthk
‘We do a great deal to make WUR visible in the city centre. Take the Sunday University and the children’s lectures we run, for instance. And WUR is also on the board for the Wednesday Debate Day, together with the Gelderlander newspaper. We don’t let the grass grow under our feet. As part of the centenary celebrations, too, we’ll be running a nice project in town. And all this comes about because over the years we have built up good relations. Nor have I noticed that you have to twist anyone’s arm at WUR if you want to organize something. Quite the opposite, in fact. It never takes me long to find speakers for the Sunday University series. I can only advise others to invest in relationships with WUR. Apart from that, students come to my library too, and they tell me they like to get off campus now and then. I sense a social need for the city. It’s not about hardware, a building, but about software, people.’

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Piet-Hein van Spanje, secretary of the ageningen business network Wagenings Ondernemers Contact (WOC) and chair of Business and Science Park Wageningen
‘We are hearing from businesses that it would be a pity for them if WUR moved out of the Aula. They appreciate the PhD graduations especially. A Dialogue Centre goes with the times, apparently, what with Unilever and FrieslandCampina being on campus too. But for WUR’s visibility in the city it would be a good idea for WUR to keep one building in the city centre. Visibility is not just a matter of a festival like Food4you, it’s a matter of hardware too.  We would also like to see WUR becoming a visible presence at the Business and Science Park. With a teaching or a research building, for example. That would boost the park’s appeal for companies. Now they are leaving here for the campus.’

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Nicolien Pieterse, programme leader Impulse
‘The main purpose of Impulse is to build a campus community. It’s very nice to collaborate with organizations and initiatives from the town, so Impulse is always open to that. And we regularly have Wageningen bands at our lunch hour concerts. WUR has become much more accessible in recent years. When we were spread out around the town, there were fewer events at which everyone was welcome, like the public lectures we run now. That only started after the move to the campus. Everyone can find our activities using the campus app, which can be downloaded free.’

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Elianne Rookmaaker, works on development project: Aan de slag met de binnenstad
‘Links between WUR and the city centre are one of the seven themes in Aan de slag met de binnenstad. Part of that is that the city centre will more often be the subject of study. We want to make students aware that they can do their applied research just around the corner on their own home territory. One group of students is working in our city centre shop now on profiles for the city centre. And we are also involved in organizing activities that will make the WUR centenary visible in the city. For me, visibility and connection is about people, above all: a building doesn’t mean much in itself. What will be more important in future is flexible workplaces, meeting places and places to eat out in the centre.’

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Eric Langendoen, Waterlanders art collective, Wageningen
‘How to make WUR more visible in the city centre? Move the city centre. If you look at traffic flows, the crossroads between the Boomgaarden, the Pomona and the cycle path behind the Pomona is the middle of the city. There is an old map of Wageningen, too, which locates the city right there. We’ll be talking about that in our next neighbourhood safari. But seriously now: set up a WUR shop in the city centre. A shop with the best ideas for the future, so you can see what WUR is working on and residents can be proud of it. A kind of gallery with the options that are open to us that have come out of research. A place you can pop in to and dream, a place that inspires you. This would bring the academic institution out of its ivory tower. So yes, it is a matter of a location, because that makes and keeps you visible.’

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  • Kees Degeling

    Ik kom graag in contact met Elianne Rookmaaker. Het gaat over de historie van haar moeder.