Monday 31 March 2021
Mirjam: 'I'm so pleased we were able to talk before you leave, Victor. Nice that we can be part of this series of interviews. That makes me proud. What about you?’
Victor: 'Definitely. The stories of our colleagues show that we have embarked on an inspiring and ambitious path with Shaping2030. And even better, we are also acting on our words. We are already showing that, we are putting our vision into practice.'
Mirjam: 'So, just before you leave, I suppose it would be obvious to look back at your time at the UT. But let's not do that. Let's look to the future. So, it's 2030 and there's a reunion here on campus. What do you hope to find?'
Victor: 'Ah, nice one! I think that in 2030, there will be a European University here. Students on campus will be different from the ones we see now. There will also be business professionals who have come to refresh their knowledge and skills. So, a new type of student who leaves the campus after a few weeks or months. And I think that in 2030, we will also be seeing students - young and a bit older - coming to Twente from all over the world, because we offer them the challenges they need.
And you? How do you see the future of the UT?’
Mirjam: 'In 2030, I see a multifunctional campus which - even more than now - is a place where people can meet and work together. With buildings and organisations which invite students, professionals and scientists to share knowledge, experience and ideas. I also think that by then, we will be half public funded and half private. And I particularly hope to see things that would be totally unexpected today. That would prove that we are not just planting seeds, but that we have also created a breeding ground from which new initiatives grow.'
Victor: 'Yes, that would be great. What do you consider the most important elements in that breeding ground?'
Mirjam: 'Firstly, the focus on development and goals, rather than on tasks and results. That gives space to breathe and grow. As an individual and as an organisation. Which is really exciting. Strangely enough, in science there are quite a few factors that hinder development. Like pillarization, the hierarchical career path and the importance of prices. This makes young people dependent, which is something we want to break through. That requires strong administrators, policy makers and top scientists. And we have them, luckily. A second element is our new self-consciousness. Fortunately, we are slightly less reserved nowadays, more willing to show ourselves. Which is important because it makes us easier to approach. This also helps us meet people and organisations around us. But we still aren't very used to that. Do you know our business gift? That umbrella?'
Victor: 'What about it?'
Mirjam: 'Students recently reminded me about it. They felt it was typical of the UT. The outside is sober and black. The inside is beautifully colourful. I want us to turn that umbrella inside out. Show people what we can do, without blowing our own trumpet.'
Victor: 'Yes, me too. When people outside the UT read our vision, they say: "wow, that's ambitious!" And we are because we wrote that together. Our community has an enormous intrinsic drive to get the best out of ourselves and the UT. To really make a difference and have a social impact.
With Shaping2030, we created the right mindset and organisational form.
That collective drive is a strength, but also a pitfall. Because you can't do everything. But we're a curious group. Choosing is not our strong point. Before you know it, we're eagerly pursuing all kinds of social themes. But if you really want to make a difference, you need to excel and focus. If we succeed, in 2030 we will be the purveyor of scientific talent and solutions for the relevant social issues. In the east of the Netherlands and far beyond.'
Mirjam: 'Amen! Talking about making a difference. What's your next step?'
Victor: 'I'm going to work in the port of Rotterdam. 40% of the CO2 reduction from the Climate Agreement needs to be achieved there. There hasn't been much progress yet. I hope to change that. What I learned at the UT is that something like that only succeeds with a strong organisation of top talent, collective intelligence and shared drive. It will be tough. However, I apparently once said: it's fine for ambition to hurt a bit. I'm looking forward to it. And if dark clouds loom, I'll use my UT umbrella!'