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Hester Bijl new Rector Magnificus of Leiden University

Professor Hester Bijl will be appointed Rector Magnificus of the Executive Board of Leiden University on 8 February 2021. She will be the first female Rector Magnificus of Leiden University. Bijl has been Vice-Rector Magnificus of the University since 1 November 2016. Carel Stolker, who has served as Rector Magnificus and Chairman of the Executive Board for eight years will stand down on the day of the Dies Natalis 2021. This will mark the beginning of his retirement.

As of 8 February 2021, the University will adopt a different administration structure, with separate roles for the Chairperson and Rector Magnificus.

The Board of Governors welcomes the appointment of Hester Bijl, who in the role of Rector will be responsible for both education and research at Leiden University. Chair Ab van der Touw: ‘The Board has great respect for the way in which as Vice-Rector Magnificus, Hester Bijl has given shape to her portfolio of education as well as her achievements in the area of societal impact and her collaboration with partners in the Leiden region, including the Leiden Bio Science Park. Hester Bijl has played an important role in the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) relocation project and has provided excellent leadership in the process of obtaining a positive assessment in the Institutional Audit. Hester Bijl is an ambitious administrator who builds communities and is very popular with not only students and lecturers but also external parties.’

Professor Hester Bijl will be appointed Rector Magnificus of the Executive Board of Leiden University on 8 February 2021.
Professor Hester Bijl will be appointed Rector Magnificus of the Executive Board of Leiden University on 8 February 2021.

The deans and the University Council (UR) advised in favour of Hester Bijl’s appointment. Charlotte de Roon, Chair of the UR: ‘As Vice-Rector Magnificus, she has shown herself to be a decisive and conscientious manager who takes student and staff participation seriously.’ 

As the present term of office of the Vice-Rector Magnificus ends on 31 October, Hester Bijl will first be reappointed in her present role until 8 February 2021, and will then be appointed to the position of Rector Magnificus as of the Dies Natalis in 2021. The chain of office will pass to the new Rector on that day. (See the letters from the UR in the right-hand column (in Dutch).)

New administrative structure

Since 2005, the roles of Rector and Chairperson have been combined in the University’s administrative structure. This has worked well, but following extensive consultation, the Board of Governors has decided to change the structure because the role of Rector-Chairperson has become increasingly demanding over the years. This is for various reasons, including the increasing complexity of the university system and the increasing importance of the University’s strategic alliances.

This is illustrated by the University’s strong presence in two cities, Leiden and The Hague, and its close collaboration with its partners in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus strategic alliance. Its regional collaboration also extends to the three universities of applied sciences in Leiden and The Hague. In addition, the University is active in the Leiden Bio Science Park and works closely with the numerous national and international organisations and institutes in The Hague, with the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and internationally with its partner universities in the League of European Research Universities (LERU). It also works with many other national and international partners and stakeholders. These external developments will make the combined roles of Rector and Chairperson too demanding in the coming years. As of 8 February 2021, the Executive Board will therefore comprise the following positions: Chairperson, Rector Magnificus and Deputy Chairperson.

This means that two roles on the Executive Board will need to be filled. Two profiles have been drawn up for these roles - for Rector Magnificus and for Chairperson of the Executive Board - and recruitment of a new Chairperson will now begin based on the relevant profile. The UR has participated actively in this process and has issued a positive recommendation about the profiles (see right-hand column).

Recruitment of Chairperson

The Chairperson will be recruited in a simultaneous internal and external hiring process, which will be managed by Josephine Scholten from Perrett Laver executive search (see the profile of the Chairperson of the Executive Board). The Board of Governors aims to complete the appointment process before the start of the 2020 summer break.

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