Tonnie Buitink and his Enschede Team

Spanning 43 years, Tonnie Buitink’s service to the University of Twente would be hard to beat. From Campuspop to the Batavieren Race, and from the Solar Race to Green Vibrations, ‘Mister UT’ has seen it all.

Tonnie Buitink began his career in 1969, as a server at the buffet in the cafeteria. From there he made his way through a few other roles until he ended up in the culture department, where he single-handedly created the position of Events Manager. As he himself puts it: ‘Arranging things, organizing concerts, checking on parties, dealing with things like safety and sustainability. I was totally in my element! All the way back in 1997, when Frans van Vught became rector magnificus, he said: “We’re going to work together. We’re going to have a lot of fun.” And we did! Van Vught wanted there to be more contact with the students, so we came up with “breakfast with the rector”. That was a good idea, a lot of things got discussed during those informal breakfasts in the Theatercafé.’

The club of students who helped him organize events like concerts on campus, and who made sure those events went smoothly, was growing bigger every year. Buitink saw an opportunity, and set up the EnschedePloeg-UT (Enschede Team), a group of enthusiastic students who were both knowledgeable and good with their hands, and who in 1988 helped set up and dismantle a Paul Simon concert in the Goffertpark. That was the start of a long tradition. The EnschedePloeg has helped with a wide range of events and festivals for over 25 years now, including the annual Lowlands festival.

So what did Buitink like best about his time on campus? The students. ‘Amazing people, those students! They’re the ones who gave me heaps of energy during my career. They can do so much – and they want to do so much; they’re cheeky and pigheaded and you can have a really good laugh with them. After all, laughter is the most important thing in life!’

In 2012, after 43 years, Tonnie ‘Mister UT’ Buitink said farewell to the campus, but he left a lasting reminder of his unique character. The marble bench in the Ganzenveld, a place where Buitink often sat and where he had so many discussions, has been replaced by a stone seat featuring a picture of Buitink and his personal motto: Be nice and keep laughing! There’s no doubt about the impression this Events Manager made on the campus community.

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