On Tuesday 26 April Douwe Fokkinga has been appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau .
Douwe Fokkinga (Leeuwarden, 1953) began his career at the University of Groningen in 1986 as a network expert working on what we now know as the internet, while it was still at an embryonic stage of its development. Working with colleagues from other universities, he was responsible for building the first networks between international research institutions, which many years later developed into the modern-day internet. His specialist knowledge and the knowledge which he could draw on through his social network contributed to the Center for Information Technology’s (CIT) position as one of the Netherlands’ leading IT centres. Fokkinga enjoys nationwide renown as an expert in this area and keeps himself busy day and night with his work – also his hobby. He works many more than the 40 hours a week he is contracted for, and continued to do so even during his membership of the University Council.
Fokkinga has always put the interests of the organization above his own, which he is able to put aside when dealing with changes or problems, enabling him to play an important independent role. He is an example for many colleagues and enjoys the confidence of the whole organization. He is the go-to person for the translation of technical computer terms into clear, comprehensible language for laypeople, and requests for such work are never directed to him in vain. As an intermediary between colleagues and sometimes between colleagues and management, he has an unparalleled ability to turn conflict around into progress. He spreads joy wherever he goes, thanks to both his amiable character and the various social activities he organizes with and for colleagues – the annual University of Groningen golf day was his brainchild.
As a member of the management team, he mediated between various departmental heads during a reorganization of CIT, thus avoiding potential conflicts of interests. His exemplary behaviour was mirrored by the other departmental heads, allowing these important changes to be made in a pleasant atmosphere. During a period as interim manager at the University Library IT department, he was able to improve the disrupted working relationships and introduce a new, universally accepted allocation of tasks.
Between 2001 and 2013 he was a member of the University Council, the highest consultative participation body of the UG. As chair of the staff party he concentrated mainly on the correct implementation of reorganizations and the interests of staff during these processes. As a trusted mediator, he was able to build bridges between management and staff. In so doing, he made a unique contribution to the implementation of a number of reorganizations, ensuring that no wider conflicts broke out between staff and the reorganization managers. Again, his amiable character and ability to take an impartial view of the situation were invaluable assets in this.
Between 1988 and 2008, Fokkinga was active as a co-founder and board member of the Netwerk Gebruikersgroep Nederland/Nederlands Genootschap Informatici (NGN/NGI; Network Users Group Netherlands/Dutch Society of Computer Scientists). This voluntary association continues to play an important role in the exchange of knowledge between IT professionals and creating a framework for the field of IT in the Netherlands. It started even before IT existed as a professional field, before there were any computer science degree programmes and in a time when technicians from other disciplines were deployed in IT. It is in part thanks to NGN/NGI that the level of knowledge among IT professionals in the Netherlands is remarkably high and that the Netherlands is at the forefront of developments in the field; Fokkinga spent 20 years contributing to this achievement.
Douwe Fokkinga has been appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
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