That 250 Wageningen University students can see (and be part of) an interview with Bill Gates for the Dutch TV programme College Tour is largely because of Gerlinde De Deyn, Associate Professor at Wageningen University. With colleagues from Wageningen Young Academy she conceived the plan to invite Gates for an episode of College Tour at Wageningen Campus. College Tour was enthusiastic about the plan and collaborated. 250 Wageningen students will be able to attend the recordings on 13 November 2014.
Contacting Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
"We contacted the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in December 2013", says Gerlinde De Deyn. "Together with Tim van Golen of College Tour we drafted an invitation for Bill Gates, which was emailed to him and his foundation by Aalt Dijkhuizen, then president of Wageningen UR.” Thereafter, De Deyn has had regular contact with the European office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in London. And she has been getting support form Louise Fresco, the current President of Wageningen UR. "In September we heard that Bill Gates wanted to cooperate, but that he had no time to come to Wageningen. Gates – who only has an hour for the interview – will be in the vicinity of The Hague on that day, so it was settled that the recordings will be shot in The Hague. “It would have been ideal to have it in Wageningen, but The Hague is good too”, says De Deyn, who made an agreement with College Tour that 250 out of 600 seats will be reserved for students of Wageningen University. The students will be taken to The Hague by bus.
Gates funds Wageningen projects in Africa
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding a couple of very large research projects of Wageningen UR, such as the malaria control project SolarMal and the N2Africa project, which focuses on soil improvement in rural Africa through nitrogen fixation by legumes. Via Ken Giller, in charge of the N2Africa project, De Deyn got a foot in the door at the Gates Foundation and, after some emails, got in contact with the right people at the London office.
Gates had been on wish lists for years
Both College Tour and Wageningen UR had tried to get Bill Gates as a speaker before. Multiple times. The efforts of both parties had not been fruitful, “but by combining our forces we have now succeeded," says Gerlinde De Deyn. And the Wageningen University students can reap the benefits.
College Tour with Bill Gates fully booked
All 250 seats have been reserved. Within 24 hours after it was announced that Wageningen University students could attend the recordings of College Tour with the founder of Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, over 350 students applied.