The University of Groningen has elected Iris de Graaf, Russia correspondent for Dutch news broadcaster NOS, as Alumnus of the Year 2022. ‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ says the jury, ‘has once again demonstrated the importance of independent journalists who know the facts, give clarity to developments, separate the wheat from the chaff, and allow a variety of perspectives to be heard. Iris de Graaf is this sort of journalist.’
De Graaf will receive her prize during the opening of the academic year on 5 September. This event, as well as her lecture for the Faculty of Arts on 6 September, will be possible to view via livestream.
The values to which she subscribes as a reporter are also important to us as a University: developing expertise, being curious, attempting to uncover the truth, being critical, acting responsibly, and being engaged with one another and with society. Open debate, the exchange of opposing opinions, and listening to one another go hand-in-hand with these values. We share these values with our students in turn, who spread out across the globe after graduating. For them, Iris de Graaf is certainly a source of inspiration.
The July issue of alumni magazine Broerstraat 5 includes an in-depth interview with Iris de Graaf.
Iris de Graaf (1991) studied Slavonic Languages and Russian Studies in Groningen from 2009 to 2014. Thereafter she obtained a Master’s degree in Journalism, at the time when journalist Jeroen Smit—Alumnus of the Year in 2009—was professor. Her thesis was on the reporting of the MH17 disaster. She maintained a blog on fashion and lifestyle, and went on to report for the NOS on youth culture.
Thanks to her knowledge of Russia and the Russian language, she was appointed to the NOS’ foreign affairs desk, leading to her correspondentship in Russia in 2020. In addition to reporting—including live reporting—for television, radio, and online platforms, Iris de Graaf writes background articles. She is also a columnist for regional newspapers Dagblad van het Noorden and Leeuwarder Courant, among others.
The University of Groningen has been presenting the annual Alumnus of the Year award to an exceptional former student since 2009. The prize is both a token of appreciation and encouragement to a former UG student who has made an extraordinary contribution to society, academia, sports, or culture, is a source of inspiration for others, and shows promise for the future. Previous winners include Jeroen Smit, Jelle Brandt Corstius, Stine Jensen, Monica Arac, Christiaan Triebert, and Sander de Hosson. Laurien Meuter was the last winner in 2020.
This year, the jury members of the Alumnus of the Year award were: Cisca Wijmenga, Rector Magnificus (chair); Laurien Meuter, founder of the Tiny Miracles Foundation and Alumnus of the Year 2020; Wilbert Kolkman, Dean of the Faculty of Law; Remco Kouwenhoven, Director of Alumni Relations & Fundraising/Ubbo Emmius Fund
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