First impressions of the new chair holder

Published on
October 27, 2017

On October 1, Prof. dr. Perry den Brok started his new job as chair holder of the group. Here are his first impressions.

While I did have experience with management of a group based on my former job (I was dean/director of the teacher education department at Eindhoven University of Technology as well as leader of the Eindhoven section of the 4TU Centre for Engineering Education) and while I already did know some of the chair group staff from former collaborations, teacher education and the national research school on education, I found it was very important to get to know all staff and activities of the chair group as soon as possible, as well as the larger context in which the group operates. Hence, one of my first activities was to have meetings with all individual staff members and other people in the context of the group. When I am writing this, I am about three weeks into my new position, and of course this is still a very short time. But nevertheless, I will give here some first impressions. I experience the atmosphere in the group as very pleasant, the group consists of a variety of people with different expertise, cultural backgrounds and tasks, but it is a tight group in which people highly respect each other, support each other and are highly respected by others in the Wageningen and larger context. I feel I have landed amidst a very social group, a group of professionals with passion, and with much energy to engage in the work they are doing. This makes me feel ‘at home’ right away. I also feel there are many new ideas and that the new tasks assigned to the group (see short piece about the new name) are welcomed.

Of course, I am also still a bit confused with my new working context, which is organized quite differently from what I was used to. In Wageningen, chair groups are the main building blocks in the organisation, and they are organised in sections (in our case the section business) that fall in larger groups (in our case social sciences). For research and education, chair groups collaborate in different consortia or combinations. Quite different from a situation in which there are departments and in which departments have their own educational programmes and research programmes, with only relatively few connections between them. Education is organized and funded differently than I was used to as well. My impression is that there is more administration and that there are more different administrative systems at work. Of course, a disadvantage of this is that this involves more bureaucracy and time for management, but I also see direct advantages, such as clear overviews of tasks, activities and outcomes, and much innovation and development. What also strikes me is the degree of collaboration between groups here in Wageningen, the interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration, and the clear sense of purpose and mission of the university. Not many institutes in the Netherlands are so clear in terms of their profile, domain and ethical or societal mission. I see that as a great benefit. All in all, I enjoy my time very much and I really look forward to collaborating with everybody. Also with you, readers of this newsletter. It may take some time to get to know everybody, but I surely hope to meet with you and jointly engage in activities!

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Interview with Perry den Brok concerning Wageningen Education