‘We want to invest in our people’

| Michaela Nesvarova

Student numbers, internationalisation and staffing problems, just some keywords that keep UT busy. But what do the faculties expect for 2023? Today, episode three of a five-part series: Jennifer Herek, dean of the Science & Technology (S&T) faculty.


We are at the start of a new year. What are your hopes and expectations for 2023?

‘We are at such a turning point. There has been so much going on. We’ve moved from one crisis to another. I feel like, as a university, we are still finding our rhythm after the pandemic and seeing how to transition back. To transition forward! The Shaping Expert Groups, which I was also involved in, officially finished working but the themes live on. We are now entering a new stage of implementing our vision in practice. We have such an opportunity to invest in our community, to invest in teams and to work with everyone’s interest in mind.’

What are the S&T faculty’s plans for the coming year?

‘It’s a big year for us. We will undergo the first faculty-wide evaluation based on the Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP), where research success begins with a solid strategy. We are now giving shape to a new faculty strategy, which will also impact our organisational structure. We will formalise our clusters and shape them into departments. Creating the strategy is definitely a combined effort. It will be based on input from throughout the faculty. We want to empower all our academics, also young academics, to have a role in this process.

In the coming year, we plan to focus on how to best organise ourselves and create shared opportunities for everyone. We are evolving to a more cooperative way of working and should focus on having balanced teams, rather than individual islands. We want to invest in our people. Actually, we just launched the S&T Faculty Club. This idea came from our community members, who wished to create a structure for supporting various communal activities. A team is now busy with organizing gatherings to bring people together.’  

When it comes to research and education, are there any specific themes or topics that S&T will focus on?

‘Our departments will be based on our expertise, which is naturally tied to the themes defined by the UT - such as energy, climate and health. One theme that has been given a big impulse is integrated photonics. We want to position ourselves and create more visibility for our expertise in this field. There is also a lot of research done on energy transition at our faculty. A very timely and important topic. Fluid Dynamics and Translational Biomedical research are other topics we’d like to develop further.

Education goes hand in hand with this. We’d like to give more attention to life-long learning. And we’d like to further explore the opportunity to bring one of our programmes, Advanced Technology, to Amsterdam. We think it’d be a good addition to the programmes that the UT already offers in the region, where technical knowledge is so needed.’

Last year you mentioned the faculty’s issues with housing. Are there any solutions on the horizon?

‘We are of course adapting to the new way of working and recognizing more flexibility, which means working partly from home. Furthermore, there are plans for a new building that will be shared by several faculties, including S&T. Space has been allocated at De Es, but the exact plans should be crystalized this year. It is exciting to have this solution on the horizon, though.’

Are there any challenges that lie ahead for S&T faculty this year?

‘We are living in uncertain times. Recognizing that and embracing this uncertainty is a challenge for all of us. It’s hard to predict any developments given the geopolitical situation. As a university, we should be cautious of the impact this can have on us. And importantly, we should remember our responsibility in preserving academic freedom.’

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

‘I’m excited for this year. We now have the opportunity to come together as a faculty in developing a new strategy. Through the SEP process, we will also have the opportunity to get external feedback. We are evolving and growing. The changes that we will make will reinforce and resonate with everything we’ve been working towards. We will also put more emphasis on academic diversity and inclusion in order to ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe and is part of a team. We have a very collegial and well-functioning faculty board and management team. This is the year to build on that.’

Stay tuned

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