Organisatie - 16 mei 2013

WUR council demands investigation into failed merger with VHL

'Executive Board neglected university of applied sciences for too long'.
Executive Board will give its response next week.

The employees' councils, united in the WUR council, are unusually negative about the role of the Executive Board in the failed partnership with the Van Hall Larenstein university of applied sciences. In a letter sent to the Board on 2 May, the WUR council talks of 'muddling along' and 'a botch-up'. The council 'demands a thorough, independent external evaluation'.
The council is annoyed that it was only asked for its advice after the decision to split up had been taken. In the letter, it now gives an 'extremely negative advice' about the split. It should be said this advice has no consequences as the council only has the right to give its opinion; its consent is not required.
The WUR council puts the blame for the failure of the partnership with VHL on the board. It feels that Wageningen UR focused too much on implementing the financial obligations and procedures at the applied university and neglected substantive collaboration, such as joint education and the possibility for VHL graduates to transfer to Wageningen university. The board is accused of not doing enough to generate broad support. The council says a crucial factor was that the chairman of the board, Aalt Dijkhuizen, did not act as a leader who could unite people when the problems became clear. Incidentally, the WUR council recognizes that VHL's employees' council, which has had a poor relationship with the management since 2010, 'became increasingly intransigent in defending its own position'.
External investigation
Although the partnership has now ended, the WUR council still wants an external investigation. 'We want to draw lessons from this,' explains WUR council secretary Nico Lenis. 'It's a pretty big thing: Wageningen UR had three pillars and now one of them has gone. We want to find out what went wrong and what the Executive Board's role was. We have our own ideas on the matter but it's good to have an external evaluation check that.'
The Executive Board is not responding publicly to the allegations at present. Spokesman Simon Vink says: 'The council will receive a reply; we are currently working on a letter.' The VHL split is an item on the agenda for the next meeting between the council and Executive Board, on Wednesday 22 May.