After receiving positive advice from the Committee of Deans and the University Council, the Supervisory Board of the University of Groningen has decided to appoint Hans Biemans, Vice President of the Board of the University, for a second four-year term. Biemans began in his role on 1 September 2019, succeeding Jan de Jeu.
‘I appreciate the University-wide trust in me. I am proud to contribute to the management of the UG, an organization which takes up an important place in our society, and I’m looking ahead optimistically to the coming years’, says Biemans, whose second term will start on 1 September 2023.
Biemans considers the innovation of the business operations systems in the fields of finances and HR one of the milestones of his first term as a UG administrator. ‘That unavoidable change had already been set in motion by my predecessor, but the actual introduction of AFAS turned out to be a big step. We had to adjust our working methods, for example. The financial processes are now running smoothly, while the HR side still deserves some extra attention in the time to come. But that too will work out well.’
Several months after his appointment as Vice President, the coronavirus pandemic turned university life as we knew it upside down. ‘Those were difficult times, in which we were looking for the right course of action’, says Biemans. ‘Even more so because Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga, who also started in September 2019, and I had planned to connect with a great number of colleagues.’
The pandemic also changed the needs of students, Biemans realized. ‘The impact on their mental health is substantial. Our students are quicker to call on the university and they expect other things. For instance, the university is increasingly being held accountable for social safety, also outside the walls of the university.’
As Vice President, Biemans is responsible for the business operations and finances of the University. The sharp increase in the costs of energy and other purchase prices forms a difficult challenge for the UG. At the same time, that development serves as an incentive for the sustainability policy as established by the University in the Strategic Plan ‘Making Connections’.
Biemans: ‘Under the heading ‘TeRUG in Balans’ (Back in balance), we are taking measures together with the faculties and service units to make cutbacks. A first set of measures, such as saving energy by lowering the temperature in our buildings, have already been taken. The full set of measures will lead to a structural cutback of €20 million from 2026 onwards. This includes energy savings, use of workplaces, optimal use of teaching rooms, and the organization of course units within our teaching. There are no taboos. It is valuable, and also exciting to review things like that collectively.’
Biemans commended the willingness and ideas of all staff members involved. ‘I’m very optimistic. Spanning over more than four centuries, it’s in the DNA of our organization to adjust. In the forthcoming period we will confidently continue doing so.’
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