Organisation - June 28, 2018

WUR Council should discuss more matters of substance

Albert Sikkema

The university councils and works councils at WUR rarely discuss the direction the organization is going in. A committee led by professor of Nutrition Ellen Kampman has studied why that is, and made proposals for improvement.

A committee led by Ellen Kampman has thought about how to improve the role played by the central councils. © Sven Menschel

Ellen Kampman, personal professor of Nutrition and Cancer, has been working at WUR for 25 years but knew nothing about the central participation structure. ‘That makes her an excellent committee chair for coming up with critical reflection,’ says WUR Council chair Guido Camps. The committee, which includes policymakers and ex-council members, started in April and published its recommendations on 21 June. The five main ones are:

    • The WUR Council needs to become a better reflection of the WUR community. That means attracting more professors, managers and PhD candidates. There needs to be more awareness of the compensation arrangements, and managers ought to value council work more highly as a career move.
    • The current WUR Council spends too much time on procedures and rules, putting newcomers off. The Council’s work needs to be made more interesting and challenging, including through the exchange of views with each other and the Executive Board on issues in the workplace.
    • The work of the WUR Council should be more flexible. The committee proposes a maximum of a six-year term for members. And the Council should more often form ad hoc advisory committees, for example on tenure track, to which it invites staff and students with the relevant knowledge and experience.
    • There should be more collaboration between central and departmental councils.
    • The Executive Board and the various directors should consult the councils more on policy development. At present they only consult the councils about their decisions, not when they are analysing the problem or choosing a possible solution. This definitely needs to change.

All in all, the committee would like to see more discussion of strategy in WUR Council meetings, and greater involvement in its work by staff in particular. The involvement and organization of Wageningen students is much better. A WUR Council committee will now ponder how to put these recommendations into practice.