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Stephan van Galen

Stephan van Galen
Stephan van Galen

As Secretary-General of the Office of the University, Stephan van Galen is tasked with the management and organization of the University as a whole. Stephan van Galen is Secretary-General of the Office of the University. After receiving a PhD for his research on the history of Burma between 1500 and 1700, he worked as policy advisor for the VSNU and Secretary to the board of the NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders).

A dynamic environment

I was excited to hear that the University of Groningen was looking for a Secretary to the Board of the University and a Director of the Office of the University. The University of Groningen is a classic, broad-based university. Above all, however, it is ambitious. We have recently opened a campus in Friesland (Leeuwarden) – the University of Groningen is on the move. These ambitious plans put a lot of work on the shoulders of our staff, but they work hard and passionately. It is fair to say it requires a certain drive to be able to thrive here.


As Secretary-General of the Office of the University, you get to know nearly all the ins and outs of the organization. In this position, I have become aware of the social nature of the University of Groningen, which takes care of its staff in an almost old-fashioned manner. It’s a close-knit community where people look out for each other. At the same time, however, the University shows a strong external focus. We are at the forefront when it comes to social issues, for example, and we definitely lead the way in our region on issues such as the Participation Act. I notice that people are proud to work for our University. They are fully committed, which fills me with joy.

International orientation

The University of Groningen is a truly international community. We make sure new staff members quickly feel at home here. To that end, we initiated the International Welcome Center North, which guides international staff through immigration procedures and organizes social activities. We also pay a great deal of attention to the partners of foreign staff members and actively help them find work. That’s how the University of Groningen embraces the outside world. A large number of our staff members come from abroad, and this creates a dynamic environment that brings us into contact with a wide variety of cultures. To my surprise, I bumped into an old acquaintance from India here – it turned out she had been working at the University for years.

Great expectations

Our scientists conduct ground-breaking research and this generates a wonderful buzz in the organization. Apart from staff, the University of Groningen also attracts students from all over the world. No fewer than 15% of our students come from abroad and this figure is growing every year. Whenever I walk through the Academy Building I can sense the energy of all those young people, full of dreams and ambitions. This place is filled with people standing on the threshold of their careers, facing their lives full of anticipation, and that’s what sets this workplace apart from your standard organization. The University throbs with an atmosphere of great expectations.

City and countryside

Groningen is a vibrant student city with the countryside on its doorstep. The forests of Drenthe are also within cycling distance. I would therefore advise anyone moving to Groningen to look around at their leisure before deciding where they want to live. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the city or the countryside; you can always find a home within cycling distance of your work. Groningen is also a safe place for children to grow up in. Every morning, I cycle to work with a smile on my face, enjoying the clean air and the scent of flowers. What a difference to the Randstad.

Last modified:13 March 2020 12.51 a.m.
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