Organisation - September 15, 2011

Investigation of support for VHL strategy

The Executive Board will investigate how much support there still is among Van Hall Larenstein staff for the strategy the University of Applied Science has mapped out and further collaboration within Wageningen UR.

Economist Arnol Heertje spoke at the alternative opening of the academic year in Velp
If the ideas the Executive Board and directors have for the future do not have sufficient
support, Wageningen UR and VHL may part company. This is what Executive Board Chairman AaltDijkhuizen writes in a letter to staff.There have been disagreementsbetween the directors and someVHL staff members for a whileconcerning the implementation ofthe planned strategy. Things cameto a head in Velp before the summerholidays when programme directorHans van Rooijen (Forestryand Nature Management) was suspended.This led to an alternativemeeting at the opening of the academicyear, organized by the FNMlecturers. They are demanding Van Rooijen's return. There is dissatisfactiontoo at VHL Leeuwarden,where the opening of the academic year was cancelled.
Hiving off
Dijkhuizen says the confusion about the strategy and boycott has ‘created an atmosphere that is not worthy of a university and the education of young people'. The Executive Board encourages constructive criticism but emphasizes that agreements, once made, must be kept. The directors and Executive
Board now want to break the deadlock by investigating whether there is enough support within the organization for the strategy and greater collaboration within Wageningen UR. An outside expert will talk to teaching staff and students in a ‘safe, confidential environment, in which every one of you can  speak freely, based on the correct information'. Should it turn out after those talks that there is not enough support for the directors' plans, then hiving off the Applied Sciences University is one of the possible options, 'however distressing an painful that might be'. 
Analysis: New low point for VHL
What happened in Velp is nothing less than a mutiny. Ellen Marks was supposed to give a celebratory speech to the crew but they were on another deck hollering. The lecturers' organizing an alternative opening at exactly the same time was a slap in the face for Marks.
She only heard about the alternative meeting on the day itself whereas Resource had been notified a week earlier. The regional newspaper and TV station had also got the message in time. Marks wanted to spare herself another embarrassment and cancelled the opening of the academic year in Leeuwarden.
That is how far the Applied Sciences University has sunk. Opening ceremonies are cancelled, directors and lecturers quarrel in public. Marks has the support of the Executive Board but they too do not know what to do. A very brief announcement appeared on intranet: ‘In view of the developments this week, the directors and Executive Board have decided to cancel the ceremony in Leeuwarden to mark the opening of the academic year. Further information will follow as soon as possible.' Apparently that's all the communication department could make of it.

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