For most staff and students, the new year started this morning exactly as 2021 had ended: at home behind a screen. A gloomy conclusion, perhaps. That is why UT yoga teacher Ron ten Voorde kicked off the New Year's meeting with fifteen minutes of relaxation exercises. When the last 'ocean breath' was exhaled, host Peter Timmerman of Studium Generale and student Marie-Laure Snijders opened the New Year's reception. Board members Vinod Subramaniam and Tom Veldkamp joined in a talk show-like setting. Vice-chairman Machteld Roos was in quarantine and was therefore present via a screen.
The board members recounted their holidays, which, due to the ongoing lockdown, were mainly filled with reading and walking. As a science fiction enthusiast, Veldkamp reread the Dune saga. After that, it was time for questions from the online audience. Former rector Thom Palstra asked via chat about the ‘honeymoon’ of the new members of the board. What surprised them in their first months? The UT community is sometimes conservative, noted Subramamiam. ‘That is a challenge for the coming years.’
The Covid crisis proved to be an inevitable topic. Asked about the mental wellbeing of students and staff in the latest lockdown, Veldkamp replied that 'unfortunately' the Board was not in charge of national policy. He expressed the hope that physical activities could be resumed on the campus as soon as possible. 'We have proven that we can organise activities here without outbreaks. Our track record is good.'
Subramamiam agreed. The university president emphasised that staff and students should not be driven over the edge in the coming period. ‘If it is announced on Friday evening that more is possible, it does not have to be arranged immediately on Monday morning. Constantly switching takes an enormous amount of energy. As the Executive Board, we want to support the transitions as best we can.’
After the traditional announcement of the UT in the Media Award, the subject of sustainability was briefly discussed. Yet, there was not much time to elaborate on the theme. The New Year's reception was drawing to a close. By now, DJ NOX had arrived behind his booth. To close this New Year's Meeting in lockdown, the student DJ started off with an appropriate record: Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees.
Winners of the ‘UT IN THE MEDIA AWARD’
- 1st place: David Fernandez Rivas, adjunct professor at the Mesoscale Chemical Systems group
- 2nd place: Maarten van Aalst, professor for 'Spatial resilience for Disasters Risk Reduction'
- 3rd place: Lisette Van Gemert-Pijnen, professor of Technology in Healthcare
- Students category: Solar Team Twente
- PhD category: Christoff Heunis, PhD student in the research group Biomechanical Engineering
- Social Media Award: Richard Stevens, associate professor at the Physics of Fluids group