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Put Researchers First, For a Better Tilburg University

This petition had 159 supporters


We request the Executive Board of TiU, and indeed the managers of TiU at all levels, to take into account more what the researchers of TiU have to say and to act more in the interest of these researchers as we believe that, if they do, TiU will perform better on its core tasks and serve society better.

We are worried by TiU currently seeming to miss a sense of direction. We are disappointed by the Strategic Plan of TiU not making clear choices, and by TiU failing to establish a clear academic identity. We think TiU could be doing better and that the way to become better is for the management to take more into account what the researchers have to say, rather than the non-academic policy advisors. We are worried by researchers no longer bothering about the public good and increasingly focusing exclusively on their individual work, because they think that nothing will change in any case. We fear a trend of researchers increasingly turning their back on the management, with bad consequences both for the management and the academic climate. We think this trend needs to stop, but believe that this will only happen if the highest management levels clearly signal their willingness to embrace change. In particular, we think that a University that takes itself seriously cannot accept the situation, as currently at TiU, where at the very top level (of the Board of Governors) no single academic is present. By using the insights of its best brains, TiU can develop further. We invite our managers to develop a better vision and sense of direction by standing on the shoulders of the researchers at the work floor.

Just as the entire Dutch population is standing behind the national soccer team (at least as long as it is doing well), we would like to see that all employees of TiU stand behind their academics; that the entire university is, as much as possible, focused on the academics “scoring”, by publishing excellent research and giving inspiring lectures, and, last, but not least, that everybody contributes in creating and upholding the public goods necessary for excellent research and teaching. The culture at TiU should be such that everybody, including the support staff cheers whenever a “goal” is scored and that everybody recognizes that scoring indeed is a team effort, in which the cooperation of all players, including the support staff, is crucial.

We think that, at TiU, the idea that a university is an academic partnership rather than a profit maximizing firm has somewhat been forgotten. We believe that TiU should make clear where it stands for: it should explicate its scientific values and formulate its academic goals. It should recognize that its capital is human (intellectual) capital, should take full advantage of that, and should do what it takes to cherish, encourage and facilitate this capital. We realize that times are changing and that valorization becomes more important, but we also think that universities still are the places where the best brains come together and that it would be a shame not to make use of that.

In particular, we realize that a large and increasing part of our academic staff is non-Dutch. We think that TiU should take advantage of this, and that, in its valorization activities, TiU should reach out (much) further than the local Tilburg (or Brabant) area. It should not alienate the international faculty, but cherish it for the diversity that it brings.

If you think you would be more proud of Tilburg University if it would change and embrace the ideas outlined here, please sign this petition, which we will hand over to the Executive Board of TiU before the summer. The more people sign up, the better the chances of changes (improvements) being implemented, hence, we encourage you to bring this petition to the attention of other colleagues that might be supporting it. Thanks in advance for signing up, for the benefit of all of us.

For further arguments, and a list of 10 concrete action points, we refer to the document“Trying to make a difference; challenges for Tilburg University”, written by Eric van Damme, which you can find here. All initiators agree with the main message from that paper, without (necessarily) agreeing with all of its details; as stated in the first footnote of that paper, only Eric is responsible for that paper.

Eric van Damme, TISEM;

Cyrille Fijnaut, TLS;

Marc Groenhuijsen, TLS;

Siegwart Lindenberg, TSB;

Arjen van Witteloostuijn, TISEM;

Aart de Zeeuw, TISEM

 



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