Dean James Kennedy is leaving University College

Dean James Kennedy is leaving UCU. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

In October 2015, James Kennedy transferred from the University of Amsterdam to lead University College Utrecht. At the time, he was the successor to Rob van der Vaart. After five years, Kennedy now says he wants to focus more on his scientific work. “The position of administrator sometimes made me miss the depth of research and education,” he explains on the Intranet (only available with Solis-id, ed.) of Utrecht University.

Kennedy, who received a lot of media attention this year for his work as chairman of the committee in charge of composing the ‘Dutch canon’, will remain at the UU. Aside from a professorship at the department of History, he will focus on community-engaged learning as a distinguished professor.

These past few years, Kennedy didn’t have an easy time as leader of the small-scale Liberal Arts college. A heavy blow was the university board’s decision to sell the unique UCU campus at the Prins Hendriklaan. The maintenance of the buildings and surrounding space had become too expensive.

It was a controversial decision, which Kennedy grudgingly accepted. Together with the university board, he’s now searching for an alternative location for UCU, possibly at the Utrecht Science Park.

Kennedy also faced financial and administrative concerns. A critical report about UCU’s organisational structure and the communication between employees led to a reorganisation. That laborious process was completed this summer, but it remains unclear how the new setup will work in practice.

On the UU intranet, Rector Kummeling voices his appreciation for Kennedy: “In these past years, James Kennedy has done incredibly important work to get University College Utrecht ready for the future.”

The rector sees the formal completion of the reorganisation as a suitable moment for the Dean to step back. “It’s good that a new administrator will take over and continue building with the UCU team.”