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Named Chairs

The University of Groningen has three named chair positions available. These so called 'Named Chairs' are special because they carry the names of internationally renouned scientists. By granting the mentioned chairs to three professors at the University of Groningen they are honored in the disciplines of organization structuring, marketing science and jurisprudence.

Prof. dr. D. Draaisma
Prof. dr. D. Draaisma

Heymans chair for prof. D. Draaisma (2010)

The famous psychologist, philosopher and publicist Douwe Draaisma of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, was appointed the Heymans chair on 1 September 2010, for the history of psychology. Since 2003 Draaisma has been a professor at the Chair of the Archief- en Documentatiecentrum Nederlandse Gedragswetenschappen.

Experimental psychology

The Heymans Chair is named after the founder of psychology in the Netherlands, the Groningen professor Gerard Heymans (1857-1930). Heymans himself was theoretically oriented as well as Draaisma, but the chair was granted to Draaisma for more than just that reason. One of his many publications is the memorial collection Een laboratorium voor de ziel: Gerard Heymans en het begin van de experimentele psychologie. His books, despite their focus on theoretical research, not only manage to attract the interest of colleagues in the field, but also speak to a broad scientific audience. Through his books and his ensuing media appearances, Draaisma is currently one of the most famous Dutch psychologists. His works have appeared in fifteen different languages.


Draaisma (1953) studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Groningen. He graduated in 1993 at the University of Utrecht, under Piet Vroon with his dissertation on the metaphorical nature of the language in which we think and speak about memory (edition: The Metaphors Machine. A history of memory). In 1993 he returned to the University of Groningen to teach the theory and history of psychology and became a professor in 2003.

Important publications

Draaisma received from the Dutch Institute of Psychologists of the Heymans Prize for his research into the history of psychology. His book Why life speeds up as you get older – about autobiographical memory – has received several scientific and literary awards. After this first bestseller, a new book was soon published titled De Heimweefabriek – about memory, time and age – at the Historische Uitgeverij. And on the 2nd of November 2009 a third book appeared Vergeetboek, in which Draaisma stated that ‘forgetting’ is not a failure of our memory, but in fact one of its major powers.

Prof. dr. J. Luiten van Zanden
Prof. dr. J. Luiten van Zanden

Maddison chair for prof. J. Luiten van Zanden (2010)

Prof. dr. Jan Luiten van Zanden has been appointed as honorary professor on the new Maddison chair at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen. Van Zanden is winner of the Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch academic award. The new chair has been founded to commemorate Angus Maddison, professor emeritus at the faculty, as well as to strengthen the discipline of Economic History. Professor Maddison held a world-wide reputation in the field of international comparison of levels of prosperity and economic growth between countries from a long-term point of view. He died on 24 April 2010 at the age of 83.

With the foundation of the Maddison chair, the Faculty also emphasizes the importance of the GGDC research group, the Groningen Growth and Development Centre. Maddison was co-founder and intellectual leader of the GGDC, that specializes in comparative research into long-term economic growth, on the basis of its unique database with historical data of national accounts from all over the world. Professor Van Zanden will be appointed on the Maddison chair for five years.

'Big incentive'

Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken considers the appointment of professor Van Zanden a great honour for the Faculty of Economics and Business: 'It is highly important for FEB to make the name of Angus Maddison live on. Being able to do this with the appointment of professor Van Zanden on the Maddison chair is a great incentive for FEB to further develop this important field of study.'
The professor will carry out research within the framework of GGDC and the department and research institute of Economics, Econometrics and Finance. Furthermore, he will teach within FEB’s Research Master’s programme.

Van Zanden

Jan Luiten van Zanden (1955) studied economics and history at the VU and obtained his PhD in Wageningen, with a thesis on the economic development of agriculture in the Netherlands in the nineteenth century. He became professor in Economic and Social History at the VU and later at the Utrecht University. Since 1997, Van Zanden is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Since a few years, he has been president of the International Economic History Association, the official organization for the academic practice of this discipline. In 2009, he organized the three-yearly World Economic History Conference in Utrecht. In 2003, he received the NWO Spinoza premium. Recently, Van Zanden obtained a large investment subsidy for the systematic development and accessibility of economic-historical databases CLIO-INFRA, in which the University of Groningen also participates.

'Maddison most influential economist'

FEB wishes to honour professor emeritus Angus Maddison with the new chair. Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken: 'Maddison has been the most influential economist ever affiliated to the university of Groningen. His work on economic development and historical statistics of national accounts is highly respected internationally.'

Angus Maddison (1926-2010) received his education at Cambridge, McGill and Johns Hopkins. His early career was at the OECD. He was appointed as a professor in Groningen in 1978. Maddison published about 20 books, one of his latest of which even described economic conditions at year one around the world. He also published many articles of which his paper on Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economics in the Journal of Economic Literature in 1987 has attracted 188 citations up to now.

Prof. dr. E.A. Bergshoeff
Prof. dr. E.A. Bergshoeff

De Sitter chair for prof. E.A. Bergshoeff (2009)

The University of Groningen has appointed Prof. E.A. Bergshoeff to the ‘De Sitter’ chair in Theoretical Physics. Bergshoeff is honored with this named chair because of his internationally renowned scientific contributions of extraordinary character, in specific to what is now known as the M- theory. Named chairs are specifically installed to recognize one’s excellence as a professor and are therefore named after an internationally known scientist in history.


Bergshoeff is professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. After his PhD he worked at the Brandeis University in Boston (US), at the ICTP in Triëste (Italy) and at the CERN in Geneva (Switzerland). In 1986 he and his collegues Sezgin and Townsend published a now well-known article in which they proposed an alternative idea on the string theory. They argued that it was mathematically possible to use membranes in stead of strings. Later on this idea developed into the M-theory that was applied in many unsuspected ways by different disciplines.

Bergshoeff works at the University of Groningen since 1991. He was awarded the Nicolaas Mulerius stipendium in 2006. He published over 135 articles and is linked to several Dutch as well as international organizations in the field of physics. The inauguration of the named chair was celebrated with a symposium called The Quantum Universe.

De Sitter

Willem de Sitter (1872-1934), namebarer of the chair, studied mathematics and physics at the university of Groningen. De Sitter made major contributions to the field of physical cosmology. He co-authored a paper with Albert Einstein in 1932, immediately after concluding the General Theory of Relativty. In this article they argued that there might be large amounts of matter which do not emit light, now commonly referred to as dark matter. He also came up with the concept of the de Sitter space and de Sitter universe, a solution for Einstein's general relativity in which there is no matter and a positive cosmological constant.

In the General Theory of Relativity, gravity is described as a curvature of spacetime. It is gravity that connects the work of De Sitter with the work of Bergshoeff. With the M-theory, physicists try to develop a new theory of gravity that fits the quantum theory, one of the major problems in theoretical physics. Solving the quantum gravity question is needed for an explanation of the origin of the Universe.

Prof. F. Smets
Prof. F. Smets

Duisenberg chair for prof. F. Smets (2009)

Prof. Frank Smets has been appointed as honorary professor in the new Duisenberg chair at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen. Smets is director general research at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and visiting professor in Ghent. The new chair has been established to commemorate Wim Duisenberg, former Minister of Finance and former president of both the European Central Bank and The Bank of the Netherlands. Duisenberg graduated cum laude in economics at the University of Groningen.

With the establishment of the Duisenberg chair, the Faculty also stresses the importance of the disciplines macroeconomics and monetary economics. Professor Frank Smets will be appointed as holder of this chair for five years and will deliver his inaugural lecture on 16 March 2009.

European top

Dean of the faculty Prof. Elmer Sterken confirms that the faculty is delighted to have professor Smets hold the new chair: 'Frank Smets is a top researcher in the field of macroeconomics. Macroeconomics includes monetary economics, which analyses, for example, the interactions between the financial and the real economy and the policy of central banks. Smets makes a great contribution to the development of knowledge in this field of research and can help Groningen on its way to the top.' Smets will visit Groningen a couple of times a year to act as guest speaker and to teach a course for PhD students, among other things.


Frank R. Smets (Belgium, 1964) studied in Ghent and obtained his PhD at Yale University in 1993. Then he became a lecturer at the University of Basel and researcher at the Bank For International Settlements in Switzerland. Smets has been connected to the ECB since 1998; as from 2005, he has been Deputy Director General van het Directorate General Research. He is head of the research department (with 56 staff members, out of which 40 researchers) that carries out economic research for the support of policymakers. Since 2000, Smets has been a visiting professor in monetary economics at the University of Ghent.

Duisenberg chair

Wim Duisenberg (1935-2005) has been highly praised for his record of service by politicians and financial experts from the past and the present. He has become known as the driving force in the realization of the European monetary union and the introduction of the common European currency. The Faculty honours and commemorates Duisenberg with the establishment of the chair. Elmer Sterken: 'Wim Duisenberg was probably the most famous alumnus of our faculty. It is wonderful that his name lives on in this chair. It is even more wonderful that this chair connects Groningen to Europe, and more specifically, to Duisenberg’s beloved ECB.'

Prof. dr. K. van Berkel
Prof. dr. K. van Berkel

Rudolf Agricola chair for prof. K. van Berkel (2009)

On the 16th of February 2009, Klaas van Berkel, appointed Rudolf Agricola professor in History, accept the chair with a speech entitled ‘Academisch leven’ [Academic Life]. In this speech he granted us a brief glimpse of the way he would approach his new task; writing a history of the University of Groningen since its founding in 1614.

New research

The appointment of Van Berkel as a research professor is related to the wish of the Board of the University to have a complete history of the institution by 2014, the year the University of Groningen celebrates its 400th birthday. A great deal has already been written about the history of the University. In 1864, Jonckbloet summarized the first 250 years, Huizinga provided a brilliant sketch of the nineteenth century, and the anniversary celebrations in 1964 and 1989 saw the publication of more books. Van Berkel does not merely want to produce a synthesis of these books; through new research he hopes to throw more light onto certain aspects and of course continue the story up to the start of the twenty-first century.

University history

But what is university history about? University history is not the sum of the histories of education, research, management and administration, nor the contrasting of student life, professorial and other lecturer–related activities, not to mention the less visible but no less important work of administrators and politicians who draft the laws that rule the university. In Van Berkel’s opinion, the actual subject of a university history is academic life, that special type of cohabitation shared by students, lecturers, officials, managers and even by people who strictly speaking stand outside the domain of the university, from the wives of professors to the coachman on the student coach and even the Academy cat. The changing forms adopted by this extended academic community throughout history is the true subject of a history of a university.

In order to write such a history, a historian cannot be satisfied with the usual types of institutional, intellectual and social history. Van Berkel is borrowing one essential supplementary method from anthropology – by carefully describing even the everyday customs and habits he will try to discover why the members of the academic community behaved in the way they did. He will be regularly drawing on the ‘petite histoire’ of the university, the little anecdotes and tall stories, with the contrast with the ‘official’ story throwing light on how an academic community really functions. Certain initiation rituals in a laboratory say something about the diffuse border, characteristic of a university, between work and private life, which in turn reveals something about what the professors really thought about their position and how the relationship between the sexes really penetrated the day to day dealings of the university.

Van Berkel

Klaas van Berkel (1953) studied History and Philosophy in Groningen, gaining his PhD in Utrecht in 1983 with a topic on early modern history of science. He then worked as a lecturer and professor for the Open University before joining the University of Groningen in 1988. He has written on the history of natural sciences in the Netherlands since 1580, on the science historian E.J. Dijksterhuis, on the University of Groningen during the German occupation, and on the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which he has been a member since 1997.

Prof.dr. P.S.H. Leeflang
Prof.dr. P.S.H. Leeflang

Frank M. Bass chair for prof. P.S.H. Leeflang (2005)

Prof. P.S.H. Leeflang has been appointed to the Frank M. Bass Chair, because Leeflang is seen as one of the founders of the field of marketing as a serious academic discipline in the Netherlands. Bass is currently attached to the University of Texas at Dallas.


Leeflang is professor of Economics at the Faculty of Economics. He has a great track record as an author in leading scientific journals. Eleven of the doctoral students he supervised, became professor. In 1974 Leeflang obtained a PhD in economics and became he became professor at the University of Groningen a year later.

Besides international publications Leeflang has published over fourteen books. From 1997 to 2001 he was dean of the Groningen Faculty of Economics and pro-rector from 1998 to 2001. In addition, he served several times as chairman or (Vice) President for various institutions, including the Wetenschappelijke Komissie van het NIMA (Nederlands Insituut voor Marketing), the Academy for Advanced Research in Marketing (EAARM) and the European Marketing Academy (EMAC).

In 1990 and 2003 he was a guest lecturer at the University of California in Los Angeles and is associated with the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) in Brussels. Recently Leeflang holds a position at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Since 1999, Leeflang is a member of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). J.H.A. Lokin J.H.A. Lokin

H.J. Scheltema chair for prof. J.H.A. Lokin (2005)

Prof. mr. Lokin has been appointed the H.J. Scheltema Chair. This chair is named after Professor H.J. Scheltema, who is generally regarded as the founder of Byzantine law studies in the Netherlands. Scheltema, was professor at the Groningen faculty of law from 1946 to 1977. He also enjoyed a great reputation in the field of civil law.

The importance of Roman Law

Scheltema gained international fame with a 20-piece standard work on the Greco-Roman law that he and two colleagues, Professor Holwerda and Professor Van der Wal wrote. Lokin: "Roman law is still very important for lawyers because the law – anything that has to do with agreements, wills, leases, purchases and sales –in most European countries, are often directly based on Roman law."


Lokin studied law in Leiden and Groningen (PhD 1967). In 1967 he was appointed lecturer at the University of Groningen. Lokin in 1973 graduated under Scheltema, whom he succeeded in 1977 as professor of Roman law. Lokin calls Scheltema an extremely interesting scholar: 'It is someone about whom a biography was written. That may prove something in itself, but it says even more that this biography, titled Langs zelf gekozen paden, in the days it was published immediately became a bestseller.'

Lokin is a member of the Vereniging van Nederlandse Juristen and was president of the Dutch Association of Jurists. He was also president of the international Dickens Fellowship for two years.

Prof.dr. A.M. Sorge
Prof.dr. A.M. Sorge

François Sellier chair for prof. A.M. Sorge (2005)

Prof. A.M. Sorge was appointed to the Chair Francois Sellier. Sorge is professor of International Business & Management at the Faculty of Management. He has a long academic record in the field of comparative organizational theory and is considered an international pioneer when it comes to the organizational and managerial aspects of this field.


Prof. Sorge has been a guest researcher on several occasions for the French Laboratoire d'Economie et de Sociologie du Travail (LEST) in Aix-en-Provence. This institute was co-founded in 1966 by Francois Sellier. During those times, prof. Sorge borrowed scientific inspiration at LEST. Therefore this Named Chair bears the name of prof. Sellier. Francois Sellier, a social economist, was also professor of Economics and Industrial Relations at the Université Paris-Nanterre and president of the International Industrial Relations Association.

In 1975 Sorge graduated from the University of Münster. His scientific career led through a post-doc position at Oxford to the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin and then to various Dutch institutions. He was appointed professor four times in: Maastricht, Berlin, Tilburg, Groningen and is currently Professor of International Business & Management. His expertise lies in the field of inter-country comparison of work organization, technology and industrial relations in Europe.

Prof. dr. D. Strijker
Prof. dr. D. Strijker

Mansholt chair for prof. D. Strijker (2005)

Dr. Dirk Strijker was appointed as the first Professor of Rural Development at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen in September 2005. He occupied the S.L. Mansholt Chair. This chair is – due to the proposal of local PvdA members – created by the Stichting voor Hoger Landbouwonderwijs (VHLO), and made available by a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The chair is named after the Groninger Sicco Mansholt, one of the founders of the European agricultural policy.

Agriculture and rural areas

Strijker is an expert in the field of rural development. He has done research on the economics of agriculture and agricultural policy, the rural economy and the relationship between agriculture and nature. He has also done research in the field of regional economic topics, especially in the Northern Netherlands. He is also a columnist for the Dagblad van het Noorden in which he frequently writes about 'agriculture and rural areas'.


Dirk Strijker (Hoogeveen, 1953) first studied economics in Groningen. He then worked as an agricultural economist at the Instituut voor Economisch Onderzoek in Groningen (1979-1980), the University of Groningen (1980-1983) and the Landbouw-Economisch Instituut in The Hague (1983-1988). Since 1988 Dr. Strijker reconnected to the university, first as a senior lecturer of Agricultural Economics at the Faculty of Economics and since 2003 as a senior lecturer of Economic Geography at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. He graduated in 2000 at the University of Amsterdam with a thesis on regional disparities in the European agriculture.

Prof. dr. Ben L. Feringa
Prof. dr. Ben L. Feringa

Van 't Hoff chair for Prof. Ben L. Feringa (2003)

Prof. Ben L. Feringa (1951) has been Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen since 1988. In 2003, the University established the Jacobus H. van ’t Hoff Distinguished Chair in Molecular Sciences in his honour. The new chair recognizes Feringa for his creative and innovative work that led to the discovery of the molecular motor.

The chair is named after the first winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1901, the Rotterdam-born chemist Jacobus H. van ’t Hoff, who is considered to be the founder of stereochemistry. In 1874, Van ’t Hoff published a study on the rotation of polarised light when it passes through a solution containing asymmetric carbon atoms. Van ’t Hoff was one of the first to realise how important it is to understand the three-dimensional spatial structure of atoms and molecules. Without this knowledge it is impossible to explain many of the physical and biological properties of chemical compounds.

Feringa is a worthy successor to Van ’t Hoff. He is a sharp-witted chemist who has managed to force various breakthroughs in the fields of catalysed, enantioselective synthesis of stereoisomer molecules, supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. His discovery in 1999 of a molecular motor (a unidirectional rotating molecule powered by light) is generally considered to be a discovery of international significance. In 2011, Feringa made the headlines worldwide with a Nature publication describing an electrically powered nanovehicle that moved autonomously using four such molecular motors as wheels.

Feringa has been awarded many national and international prizes, including the NWO Spinoza Prize in 2004, which is the highest academic distinction in the Netherlands. In 2008 he was made an Academy Professor by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Feringa is the vice president of the KNAW and chair of the board of the Physics department of this institute. In 2011 he received the Van ’t Hoff award, which is presented by the University of Amsterdam once every ten years for work in the field of chemistry.

Last modified:22 January 2020 3.59 p.m.
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