The Executive Board recently had a meeting with around thirty members of the University of Twente’s Ambassadors Network, including the Board of the Young Alumni Network, entitled ‘Challenges and Ambitions of the University of Twente’. The aim was to actively engage the alumni with the steps the Executive Board wants to take to enable our technical university to help address the challenges facing society. The ambassadors were also given a tour of the campus.
Many generations of alumni came to the campus for this meeting, from Roelf Venhuizen, who enrolled in 1966 and graduated in 1973 in Chemical Engineering, to Silke Heesen, who enrolled in 2015 and graduated in 2021 with a Master’s in Educational Science & Technology. The members of the Executive Board wanted to give the ambassadors a sense of the dynamism and ambitions of the University of Twente and emphasised that we can use all the help we can get from our ambassadors with achieving those ambitions. The ambassadors had an interactive dinner at five tables, at each of which five UT priorities were discussed: the UT Climate Initiative, the Lifelong Learning proposition, the joint degree programmes with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam as an example of UT satellites, Citizen Science as an approach to generate impact with research together with citizens, and the challenge of reversing the decline in the University of Twente’s name recognition.
The project leaders constantly switched tables to ensure each topic was addressed at each of the tables. This generated a lot of questions, as well as valuable perspectives on earlier UT initiatives. It was a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and can sometimes lose sight of our shared history and identity as a university. The ambassadors let themselves be informed on the course the University of Twente wants to steer amidst the controversy surrounding nationwide debates on questions such as the benefit and necessity of attracting foreign students, the language policy and the problems around student housing.
Before the dinner, the ambassadors were given a tour of the campus, which also covered several new developments. The first stop on the tour was the Future Factory, where student Maartje Kuperus, Team Manager of Solar Boat Twente, showed them around the workshops of the five student teams: Solar Boat Twente, Drone Team Twente, Roboteam Twente, Green Team Twente, and Electric Superbike Twente. At each workshop, Maartje was assisted by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable team member who talked about the challenges facing their team, the collaboration with the business community and the innovations delivered by their team. It was a very impressive and inspiring tour!
Next, the ambassadors were shown around the building at Hengelosestraat formerly home to Civil Engineering (CT), which will soon house the ITC. They saw that work is in full swing to complete the renovation, as the ITC is to relocate there this April. The ambassadors were impressed by the transformation of the building and the wonderful designs of the courtyard gardens and patios. The next stop was the Boerderij building. It was once home to the refectory, later housed the Faculty Club, among other things, and is now being converted into the new Student Contact Centre. Many ambassadors felt a twinge of sadness seeing this beautiful historic building being converted into an office location, but they were pleased that the Blom room is being retained as a meeting room! The final stop on the tour was the new Waterlab by the water of Hogenkampplein, a great example of designing the campus like a ‘living lab’ that got a lot of praise from the ambassadors.