Monday morning, at eleven o’clock, the New Year’s gathering of Radboud University (RU) took place. For the first time after two years, the auditorium was filled with an audience. The gathering consisted of a reflection upon 2022, a preview of the ‘lustrum’ year ahead and the awarding of the Hermesdorf prizes.
After two years of organising it online, an audience was able to attend the university’s auditorium for the 2023 New Year’s gathering. This meeting heralded the so-called lustrum year, in which the university celebrates its centenary. ‘It is a special year for the university,’ said Daniël Wigboldus, chairman of the Executive Board (CvB). Before talking about this special year and presenting the Hermesdorf Prizes, a video was presented with an annual overview of 2022. Photos were shown of storm damage on the campus, the raised Ukrainian flag, Radboud Rocks, the introduction week and many students studying. ‘What a year we’ve had,’ Wigboldus said.
After showing the year in images, the year was reviewed in words. Several RU scientists spoke about research for which they received a grant last year. For example, Inge Molenaar, director of the National Education Lab AI, spoke about the growth fund subsidy that the lab received last year. This lab started in October and works on improving the use of artificial intelligence in primary and secondary education. In addition, PhD student Jules Janssen Daalen talked about innovative research on Parkinson’s, for which neurologist Bas Bloem received the Stevin Prize last year.
Finally, Liliya Levandovska spoke. She is a Grant Support & Projects employee and told the audience about how the university is doing in the field of subsidies. ‘More than 100 proposals were submitted this year, 33 of which received funding,’ said Levandovska.
After the annual review, the Hermesdorf Prizes were presented by Agnes Muskens, Vice President of the Executive Board. These prizes go to researchers from the RU or Radboudumc whose research has had an important social impact. This year, the prize went to epidemiologist Alma Tostmann and Chantal Rovers, Professor of Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases. During the corona crisis, they shared knowledge about the disease with the public through media, despite a lot of negative reactions. ‘Hopefully we have been able to contribute to distinguishing myths from facts,’ said Rovers.
Furthermore, the Hermesdorf Talent Prize was awarded to Kiane de Kleijne, PhD candidate in environmental sciences. In 2022 she wrote a scientific article about the reuse of CO2 and how this is less sustainable than it seems. The article received a lot of media attention. De Kleijne received the prize because she continues to make her voice heard, despite the grimness of the climate debate.
Finally, Wigboldus gave a preview of the lustrum year. The theme of the year will be ‘meaningful’. ‘A hundred years ago, people put their heart and soul into establishing the Catholic University in Nijmegen,’ says Wigboldus. The university opened a year later than planned, with three faculties and 189 students. The RU now has seven faculties and 25,000 students. ‘We still want to make a difference,’ he said.
Two weeks of celebrations will be organised in honour of the university’s centenary. In the week following the eighth of may the Radboud Festival and Radboud Sounds will take place, an event with music and science in Doornroosje. In addition, the hundred ‘Radboud gestures’ will take place this week. These are charities of students and employees that share the university’s knowledge with the people of Nijmegen in various ways. The hundredth Dies Natalis will take place on the 17th of October. Rector Magnificus Han van Krieken will then pass his rectorship on to his successor.
Wigboldus concluded the meeting with the seven focal points of the Executive Board for 2023: leadership, recognition and appreciation, infrastructure for top research, a new educational vision, collaboration with external partners, sustainability, and safety on campus. This ‘safety’ includes both knowledge security and social security. Wigboldus stated that this is never self-evident, not even on our campus. Last year, for example, an investigation was started into transgressive behaviour of an artificial intelligence teacher. Furthermore, teacher Fleur Jongepier resigned because of the way the university dealt with transgressive behaviour. ‘By looking out for and listening to others, we can be free together,’ Wigboldus stated.
This article was published in Dutch on January 9th 2023.