‘The Board is not always happy with what the Council is saying, but they do listen’
We are already halfway through the academic year 2022-2023. And the Faculty Council hasn’t been sitting around doing nothing! Staff members Gert-Jan Lelieveld and Tim Mickler give us an update about the Vision and Strategy Plan and what they are doing in the additional hours available for Council work.
Joining the process of the Vision and Strategy Plan
During the New Year’s Reception, the Vision and Strategy Plan (VSP) of the Faculty was officially presented. Kiki Zanolie, chair of the Faculty Council, received the first hardcopy there. The Council feels positive about their involvement and the open-minded attitude of the Faculty Board.
‘I found it interesting to think about and give my opinion on something like this,’ says Gert-Jan. ‘We saw several concept versions and gave feedback on them, and it was in fact adapted to our satisfaction.’ For example: in earlier versions of the VSP, there was a lot of talk about team science and interdisciplinarity. But according to the Council, it was not sufficiently acknowledged that the development of individual research projects is still valuable and being encouraged. That is now more explicitly affirmed.
The next step in the process is of course making the vision that has been written down, concrete. Tim: ‘Right now is when the interesting part begins. What is going to happen now in regard to the plans in the VSP? We are very curious and want to be involved in an early stage.’
Additional hours are used for committees
It goes without saying that during the past half year, the Councilmembers did not only concern themselves with the VSP. And nowadays, they actually have the time for that, because university-wide policy has made more hours available for participation tasks. These additional hours are being used by the Council to proactively put items on the agenda.
‘In the past, it was often the case that the Faculty Board set the agenda, and the Council responded to it. Every now and again something came up from our side to be discussed,’ says Gert-Jan. ‘But now we have set up committees for certain themes that we want to address in the coming months, such as work pressure and the collaboration with support services. I hope we can present good and concrete proposals about these topics.’
That is what makes the Faculty Council rewarding: you’re not only reacting, but you also determine the agenda.
‘We continually try to do our work a little bit better,’ says Tim. ‘We try to play an even more active role. That is what makes the Faculty Council rewarding, if you ask me: you’re not only responding and reacting, but you also determine the agenda. We did that one time with a letter about support for course lecturers, or about problems with exams in The Hague.’
Will you be a Councilmember too next year?
This year, elections will take place again. But before we can vote for new Councilmembers, they have to stand as a candidate. Why did Tim and Gert-Jan decide to do that, two years ago?
Tim: ‘For me, there were two reasons. I wasn’t very dissatisfied with my job, but there are still issues I run into. So I wanted to join the conversation on those things and maybe contribute to improvements. Furthermore, I wanted to learn more about how the Faculty works, how all the services are operated and who does what. And that is definitely something you learn when you join the Faculty Council!’
The same goes for Gert-Jan. ‘For me it was already a period during which I became more interested in administrative positions within the Faculty. It intrigued me to critically think about the issues of the Faculty Board. They are not always happy with what we’re asking or saying, but they are always open-minded about it.’
Thinking about standing as a candidate?
At the end of March, you have to stand as a candidate if you want to be eligible for the elections of his year. Do you want to know more about the work that Councilmembers do? Tim and Gert-Jan are always open to have a chat about this, so don’t hesitate to contact them.
Text: Emma Knapper