As the start of his first mandate as VUB rector approaches, Jan Danckaert has introduced the four vice-rectors who will help take care of the day-to-day management of the university. Pieter Ballon will be vice-rector for Research. Karin Vanderkerken, who had been vice-rector for Research since 2016, will become vice-rector for Internationalisation. Nadine Engels becomes vice-rector for Education and Student Affairs. Hugo Thienpont will remain vice-rector for Innovation and Valorisation. On 13 September, the Board of Governors of the university will give the definitive green light for the new team. Jan Danckaert: "This team of experienced scientists and administrators is a beacon of confidence in turbulent times characterised by climate change, energy crisis, growing inequality and war in Europe. As a university, we must help provide an answer to the major challenges of a world in transition. With this team we want to contribute to that."
Professor Pieter Ballon, professor in the Department of Communication Sciences , will become vice-rector for Research. As director of SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation & Technology), a joint research centre of VUB and imec, he leads one of Europe’s largest social science research groups on digital media and smart technology. He is also co-founder of the European Network of Living Labs and the Hannah Arendt Institute. He succeeds Karin Vanderkerken as vice-rector for Research. "Whether it’s artificial intelligence, sustainability, cancer or fertility research, VUB has always pioneered ground-breaking and relevant research," he says. "We are going to strengthen that even more."
Professor Karin Vanderkerken, full professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences , will remain vice-rector in the new team, but will swap Research for Internationalisation. She is active as a scientist at the VUB Brussels Health Campus in Jette. Among other things, she is the chair of the Oncology Cluster. Over the past six years, as vice-rector for Research, she has focused on the core facilities and renewal of the research infrastructure. She was one of the driving forces behind the research collaboration within the EUTOPIA partnership of 10 European universities, of which VUB is part. This experience will enable her to play an important role in EUTOPIA’s further development. Her long administrative experience as vice-rector is a great asset now that she will be in charge of Internationalisation. Karin Vanderkerken succeeds Romain Meeusen in this role.
Professor Nadine Engels, educationalist and professor at the Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education (MILO), is the successor to Jan Danckaert as vice-rector for Education and Student Affairs. Because of her research expertise and her years of experience as a coordinator of teacher training, she has a great affinity with and expertise on the subject of education. She has worked for a long time with departments of the vice-rectorate of Education and Student Affairs, including in the educational professionalisation programme for new teachers and numerous educational innovation initiatives. She also boasts administrative experience, including as department chair, vice-dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences and chair of MILO. "Committed, inquisitive, connected to the city and the world, embracing diversity: the key concepts for formulating a strengthened educational vision have been given to us by the previous team," she says. "To make these concepts a reality in terms of quality with our colleagues in the programmes is a great challenge."
Professor Hugo Thienpont, full professor in the Faculty of Engineering , remains vice-rector for Innovation and Valorisation. He will continue to use his competence in applied research, industrial innovation and social service on a Flemish, European and international level. This will give research groups from the various departments of VUB every opportunity to create a lasting, significant economic and social impact through their innovative research and entrepreneurial spirit, enabling them to offer sustainable added value to our society. In addition, he will continue to steer the VUB Foundation to raise new funds that are badly needed to support our researchers and students.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.
The World Needs You
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ’urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.