Nieuws - 19 november 2009

Wageningen University as a B brand?


Seen the new house style rules? We are asked to answer the phone with 'Good morning [name], Wageningen University, Wageningen UR'.

And if I write a paper I must give my affiliation as 'Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR', and I'm not even allowed to mention the name of my research group or centre. 
Our directors have decided that Wageningen UR is the A brand, and Wageningen University is just a sub-brand, while my department, centre or chair group is not a brand at all. Wageningen University is not allowed on letterheads any more.
I happened to be involved in the decision, eleven years ago, to merge the university and DLO in Wageningen UR. Cees Veerman, who was chair of the board at the time, assured the university council that Wageningen UR was just a formality, an invisible holding behind strong A brands: The member organizations. In just the way Uniliver stays invisible to the consumer behind the brand Bona. I can still hear him saying it. How differently it has worked out. Ten years later, for us, Bona, BlueBand, Dove, Omo, and Unox are all unmistakably called Unilever.
I don't think the executive board (the true management of this university) really has the university's interests at heart. It should never have allowed the executive board of Wageningen UR to demote the University to a sub-brand. The fact that the same people are on both boards is no excuse.
To me this is all nonsense, and goes right against the conventions of the academic world. Ever heard of a university that is 'part of' another institution? I will not be conforming to this, and I call on others at the university to join me. And if Wageningen UR holdings loses a bit of status through this, I don't see the problem. The salaries could just come down a bit.
Dr. Patrick Jansen, Forest ecology and forest management chair group, Ecosystems centre, department of environmental sciences, Wageningen Universiteit, full stop.