Council approves: vice-rector may remain
The university council voted to approve the arrival of the vice-rector on Monday after the board made the necessary commitments. Former fgga dean Erwin Muller can stay on in the new executive position. ‘The longer I look at this proposal, the more questions I have about it.’
Vincent Bongers
Thursday 30 May 2024

The arrival in April of a new executive position - the vice-rector of organizational development - had caused great annoyance in the university council. The council felt ‘scandalized’ by the board.

That was made worse when the intended candidate Erwin Muller was already presented on YouTube as the new vice-rector while council members and the board were still at odds over whether the new job should be created at all. The council also felt that their right of approval should apply to the position.

The council was not convinced of the necessity of the position, found the duties unclear and, above all, claimed that the board had bypassed the employee participation process by the 'rushed-through' appointment of Muller. His salary, six hundred thousand euro over four years for a 0.7 FTE appointment, also caused much resentment during a time of budget cuts.

The council did not stop there and went to the university's supervisory board. The latter appointed a mediator who held a private meeting with the board and the university council. During that meeting, the board acknowledged the council's right to consent and apologized for mistakes. The board then quickly wrote a proposal to include the vice-rector in the university's administrative and management rules and regulations and to legalize Muller's job.

‘I don't see the vice-rector being able to do all this'

That proposal was discussed with the council Monday during a chaotic meeting with two adjournments. In the proposal, the board explains more about the vice-rector's duties. Muller will not only make the organization more 'agile',  but also advise the board on the implementation of the university strategic plan, the administrative organization of the university and on crisis and incident management.

Job description

Too extensive, the council thought. Ebrar Kaya of student party Students' Collective wanted tasks removed. 'We think the position should only be about organizational development and not about things like implementing the strategic plan, administrative design and crisis and incident management.'

Patrick Klaassen of staff party UB agreed. 'This is a 0.7 FTE position. I don't see the vice-rector being able to do all this.'

According to board president Annetje Ottow, that can't be done all at once . 'We will enter into discussions with the vice-rector and the council as soon as possible about what the priorities should be. I can imagine that the description is too broad now. We therefore suggest that the vice-rector deal only with the organizational development side of the strategic plan.'

Kaya: ‘That still leaves the university's administrative structure and crisis and incident management.’

Ottow: 'We have specified precisely these matters, which was also the council's express wish.' Klaassen: 'It falters because many points are already being worked on by a variety of staff members. What then is the role of the vice-rector?'

'I have no idea what all is meant by the text in the explanatory statement'

'He is not going to repeat things,' responded vice board president Martijn Ridderbos. 'The vice-rector is going to bring information together and provide connections between programs. A lot of that kind of thing now comes on the board's desk. He's going to help us, but we remain the ones responsible.'

Timothy de Zeeuw of LAG wanted to know if Muller might become chief of reorganization now that financial distress seems to be increasing. 'Things are already tight and there are tough times ahead because of political developments. From the organization we then hear, 'Are there going to be reorganizations? Is the arrival of the vice-rector a harbinger of that?''

'There is no such intention at all,' Ottow replied. 'Everyone is worried about the outline agreement of the new government and we have yet to discuss the consequences.'

'I have no idea what all is meant by the text in the explanatory statement,' Klaassen said. 'The format makes it difficult to agree with it. The longer I look at it, the more questions I have about it. It says that the vice-rector will also focus on the “exchange, professionalization and modernization of co-determination.” I think the council should do that directly with the board.'


After a brief adjournment, Ottow promised that the board will reduce the package to its core. 'Let's not add the explanation to the regulations. In consultation with the council and the vice-rector, we will then clarify exactly what the details of the package will look like.

In the end, the board adjusted the proposal so that a narrow majority - seven votes in favor and five against - agreed to the vice-rector's appointment during the closed session.

The position is for four years and can be extended for another four. The council has advisory rights to that. In case of further renewal, the council has the right of consent.