Science - June 9, 2005

Kropff new rector

It is almost certain that Professor Martin Kropff will become the new rector of Wageningen University. A confidential appointments committee has submitted Kropff as their candidate to the Supervisory Board. Approval is expected to come next week, after which Kropff will be officially appointed.

Various sources have confirmed Kropff as the successor to the current rector, Professor Bert Speelman. The appointments committee held broad consultations with professors and managers within Wageningen UR over the past few months. The committee compiled a list of potential candidates and then approached a number of them to enquire whether they were interested in the job of rector.

In the end the committee interviewed two candidates, Professor Martin Kropff, general director of the Plant Sciences Group and Professor Frans Kok, chair of Nutrition and Health. The committee made its recommendation to the Supervisory Board, Kropff being their first choice.

In Kropff’s favour is that he has more experience as a manager. Kropff has been general director of the Plant Sciences Group since 2001, during which time he has been responsible for the cuts at Plant Research International, as a result of which three hundred jobs will disappear.

Kropff graduated in 1984 in biology from the University of Utrecht. He received his PhD in 1989 under the Wageningen theoretical production ecologist Professor C.T. de Wit, after which he worked for five years at the international rice institute IRRI in the Philippines. In 1995 he returned to Wageningen and was appointed professor of Crop and Weed Science. A year later he also became the programme leader for Plant Production and Product Quality at AB-DLO, which was later integrated into Plant Research International. Therefore, even before Wageningen UR was created, Kropff had already held positions as head of part of the university and part of the DLO research side. From 1998 to 2002 he was also chair of the graduate school Production Ecology and Resource Ecology.

Despite it being a turbulent period, Kropff has made a good impression on the employees and staff at the Plant Sciences Group. His openness and optimism are appreciated. ‘It’s fine by me if he’s appointed,’ is Professor Pierre de Wit’s reaction. ‘He is enthusiastic and knows how to motivate. Of course we will have a problem at Plant Sciences if he leaves, but as far as I’m concerned he should go.’ / KV

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