Faculty of Science dean Gerrit van Meer leaves

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Gerrit van Meer, dean of the Faculty of Science, is stepping down from his position as dean at the end of December this year. He announced the news last Tuesday in an email sent to faculty employees.

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Van Meer was dean of the Faculty of Science for seven years. His board recently presented a new strategic plan for the years 2017-2021 – a good time to quit, according to Van Meer (64). In his email, Van Meer writes: “I’d like to make room for a new dean, who can oversee the developments in education and research with a fresh pair of eyes.”

After Werner Raub (Social Sciences), Van Meer is the second dean leaving this fall. The Faculty of Science will try to find a successor in the next few months.

A painful process
Gerrit van Meer obtained his PhD in Utrecht in 1981. After some time performing research in Heidelberg and Utrecht, and a position as professor of cell biology in Amsterdam, he returned to Utrecht University in 2001 as professor of biochemistry. In 2010, he became Head of the Department of Chemistry, and in 2011 he became Dean of the Faculty of Science.

His time as dean had, in his own words, “a rocky start”. He started at a time when the faculty was facing an enormous amount of cutbacks. An agreement with the university board from that time mentions a cost reduction of 15 percent – more than 15 million euros a year. Around a hundred jobs had to be cut. Van Meer created a new profile for the faculty, one that eventually led to the demise of the department of astronomy in Utrecht. “A painful process,” he called the decisions at the time in an interview with DUB.

Van Meer was successful in his efforts to get the faculty to calmer waters, although he’s been known to repeat his stance on financial shortages at the faculty.

The dean, who will stay at the UU as a professor, also mentions personal reasons that led to his decision to step back. “I’ve done my work as dean with great pleasure and enthusiasm. But it demands a lot from you – from your private life, too.”

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