After almost 25 years at Radboud University, my retirement is in sight. Even though it sometimes still feels as if I just arrived at this university, I more and more am confronted with situations that I am the oldest in certain bodies and fora within academia, and that I am somehow also a historical institutional consciousness with the know-how and know-why, others and even my own supervisors are lacking. This is also a new kind of experience for me. On my birthday in August 2024, I will be given emeritus status, after which I will still take care of a number of PhD candidates whom I supervise and who will not have their PhD projects finished by that time. Many others will finish before my retirement. This kind of supervision work is something I really enjoy, as it is strongly content-related and links up to my own personal research interests. Until then, I will slowly but surely hand over my current responsibilities to my successor and focus more on some of my personal research interests and also – based on my own experience with online teaching – take care of a university project on the proliferation of professional online teaching. After my retirement, I will occasionally still do some teaching at different universities and be active in international networks. I am already noticing how joyful it is to have more time to read, think and write, and for all those things which make scientists tick.
As the chair of the Geography team, since I started at Radboud university, with the ambition to lift the group to a new level in research and teaching and lead it to the current topical research frontiers, one hardly has time to focus on personal research interests or further building up one’s own CV. The main priority has been the positioning of the Geography team, looking for a balance in different competencies and stimulating the intellectual development and debates within the group, positioning and assisting the (international) career development of the members of the team, while also keeping up our high ambitions. The last 25 years at Dutch universities were, however, also characterised by a strong urge towards (individual) excellence and at the same time by a continuous succession of restrictive austerity measures. This has had detrimental effects on universities in general and is also totally contrary to the kind of team science, which I believe is the only way to make real science thrive. In other entries on this site I already critically addressed the thrust towards ‘Excellence Stalinism‘. High-quality science, in my view, can only develop through, intensive debate at eye level on a level playing field and through cooperation on joint research interests. Even when times were not in favour, this is exactly what I tried to establish even though this often implied swimming against the currents. This sometimes also implied that the university was not always supportive in reaching these objectives and one needed to be alert for all kinds of resistant forces. Currently, we experience a bit of a turnaround in the Dutch university landscape. Slowly but surely the pendulum seems to swing back. Excellence strategies are now being replaced with more balanced and team-oriented investment policies creating new space for growth, also within our geography group. This opens new opportunities. It will be the task of my successor to lead that development. It will still be a challenge, and I look forward to sharing my experience in this respect with my successor.
Have a look at the Job Advertisement for the open position of Full Professor of Human Geography: https://www.ru.nl/en/working-at/job-opportunities/full-professor-of-human-geography.
This Job advertisement originally planned to be published before last Christmas, has shown to be a forceps birth and another example of how difficult it sometimes is to get the institutional support for our endeavours. This now resulted in a job announcement in the middle of the summer holidays. Not really an optimal moment for recruitment, but let us hope it does find the response our geography group deserves so that it can contribute to the further ‘place making’ for our geography group.