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A quick call to: the chair of the University Council

The University Council is the central participation body at the University. It is looking for a new chair as of 1 September. Until then Charlotte de Roon is at the helm. She talks about her experiences as chair of the University Council.

Charlotte, we can see there’s a vacancy for the chair of the UR. Are you handing on the baton?

‘Yes, my term is coming to an end. And having been chair for four years, it’s time for something different.’

The new Council has just been elected. What do the members find important and expect of the future chair?

‘The members think it is important to have an independent chair who ensures the Council is strong and effective. That doesn’t just mean someone who ensures meetings run smoothly and makes sure the Council knows its stuff. You also need to have an ear to the ground and build a good relationship between the individual members, administrators and other participation bodies.’

What were your expectations when you first joined the Council? And did they prove right?

‘I expected the Council to mainly be seen as a hindrance rather than an opportunity to increase the quality and acceptance of decisions. But in the past few years, I’ve met many administrators, directors and staff who did want to seize that opportunity. Unfortunately, this isn’t yet the case for everyone and each significant decision. Participation requires continuous maintenance.’

What would you tell anyone considering applying for the post?

‘Go for it. It’s a unique opportunity to help steer the University in the right direction, one that is supported by our students and staff. Don’t be put off by practical constraints. You can always find a way.’

What skills have you developed in your time as chair?

‘Before I started a colleague told me this position is a unique opportunity to learn to listen properly. And they were right. As chair you need to be up to speed with the different needs and interests. Then you not only know where there is room to exert influence but can also get the Council to work as a team. The proverbial wheelbarrow of frogs.’

What about your future?

‘I’m a bit sad to say I’ll be leaving the University, but am looking forward to starting work at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in mid-July. And with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to defend my dissertation this autumn!’

A quick call to... 

A lot is happening at Leiden University. The websites are filled daily with news. In the 'A quick call' section, we ask a university employee to tell us more about a relevant and current topic within the university. The answers give you more insight into the facts, but above all give you more personal background information. You can read it in 'A quick call to...'.

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