Dies Natalis 2018: talent in the spotlight

"Take the lead, develop a vision of your own, be rebellious. Try to look at things from a wide perspective and be an active player in the global community." Rector Magnificus Thom Palstra made a clear appeal to the audience during the 57th Dies Natalis of the University of Twente, which was centered around the theme of Talent. Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek was announced Distinguished Professor at the ceremony.

Talent development

For people with the talent and drive, there's a lot to achieve in this world. But how can we facilitate that journey? A journey that should not be limited in any way, but should be encouraged and supported by a university. "The question is often, if teaching talent is valued high enough when compared to research or valorization. We therefore decided to stimulate teaching talent in our new Teaching Excellence Programme, in which you can develop yourself from an effective teacher towards a national and global leader in teaching and learning. We recently defined new Professor’s positions with a stronger accent on teaching", Palstra said.

Address the issue of workload

Providing space for talent is not just about education. Both at student and employee level, workload is a recurring theme. In his speech, Thom Palstra acknowledged the need to address the issue with a certain sense of urgency. While the wellbeing of students and employees is first priority, a disproportionate workload also has detrimental effects on the university's performances. Thom Palstra on that: "With all these responsibilities, does our staff still have time to play around? That is a question I heard in recent discussions on workload. Playing around sounds a bit like wasting your precious time, but it is not at all. Innovative ideas typically come up when you have time to think freely."

Distinguished professor Peter-Paul Verbeek

During the Dies ceremony, Peter-Paul Verbeek was appointed as a Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy of Technology and Society. Thom Palstra on Peter-Paul: "As a Professor of Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations, you are a true figurehead and ambassador of the University of Twente. You know how to connect technology and social sciences. Your network is impressive, varying from the Rathenau Institute and several national ethics committees up to the UNESCO World Commission for the Ethics of Science and Technology. You wrote a number of books on the relations of humans and technology and you are a great science communicator. Your list of activities is impressive. The University of Twente would like to acknowledge and reward your role in all this. We would even like to enhance your role as a connector inside the university, and as a UT ambassador in society. You know how to do this in your own energetic and charming way."

Peter-Paul is the fifth professor to receive the title. The others are A. (Albert) van den Berg, Prof.dr. D. (Detlef) Lohse, B. (Bram) Nauta and D.H.A. (Dave) Blank.

Prof. de Winter Award

At the Dies, the Professor De Winter Award was presented to Dr Kathrin Smetana, Assistant Professor in the Mathematics of Computational Science group at the Applied Mathematics Department of the EEMCS Faculty. Read more here

Overijssel PhD Award

This year’s recipient of the Overijssel PhD Award is Xiaojue Zhu. He receives the award from Eddy van Hijum, member of the Provincial Executive of Overijssel responsible for Economic Affairs. Read more here.

Laurens van der Velde
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)