Saying goodbye to IHS: an interview with former director Kees van Rooijen

Campus Woudestein

After 12 years as the IHS General Director, Kees van Rooijen ends his term at the institute with a few goodbye thoughts, in which he reflects on the past decade. Read on to see how IHS has changed over the years and what's in store for our former director in the near future.

How do you feel at the end of this chapter as a director of IHS?

Today is the real day, after 12 years and 3 months as IHS director, the chapter is closed.

"I feel grateful for having been able to do it for so long, proud of what we have achieved together in those years, but also certainly melancholic that it is over. Time flies when you're having fun!"

It is a pity to leave IHS behind me, but at the same time, it is good to pass on the baton and to offer room for new ideas and initiatives after so many years. Knowing that there is a very capable successor for this position also feels good. The new director, David Dodman, is a known figure in the field and he already has the necessary experience in leading academic teams.

How was IHS in your early days?

When I made the switch from the university board to IHS in 2010, I certainly had an idea of ​​what I was getting into, but I didn't yet have a complete picture of the dynamics, diversity and challenges that existed at that time. The IHS had only been part of Erasmus University for a few years and had to find a connection with it, and at the same time, also meet the university's standards. For example, in the accreditation requirements for the Master in Urban Management and Development in order for it to be a full Master of Science programme. But I think we succeeded with flying colours.

How did the institute transform in these past 12 years?

When I started in 2010, we had 65 Master's students in the Urban Management and Development programme, the vast majority of whom received a grant from the Dutch government. The number of students has now doubled, the number of different nationalities has risen to 55 and only a minority is still receiving a grant from the government of the Netherlands. At the same time, there is a strong focus on increasing the quality every year and maximizing relevance because a lot of practical knowledge of our own academic staff, gained in projects and research in the rest of the world, is also embedded in the education programmes.

We have also worked hard to develop new programmes and strengthen our academic profile, in line with the expectations of Erasmus University. For example, in 2014 we started a PhD programme on Urban Development and Governance which got off to a flying start, now including an average of 25 candidates with a great diversity in background. Subsequently, in collaboration with the Erasmus School for Behavioral Sciences, we started an initial MSc programme in 2019, the Master in Urban Governance. This Master's is primarily aimed at a somewhat younger target group. All in all, I think that IHS now offers a nice variety of products, services and programs in research, education and consultancy.

What will you miss most about working at IHS?

"Besides the colleagues and the international atmosphere at the institute, I think I will miss the students the most. I liked to have contact with them and enjoyed their enthusiasm, drive and life wisdom."

And of course, the sports days, cultural evenings, social evenings, Friday afternoon drinks and just chatting at the coffee machine. I'll probably just sneak in from time to time in the future to visit.

What is your next step professionally?

Fortunately, I will continue to work at Erasmus University. As an alumnus of this beautiful university, with 8 years on the Executive Board and 12 years at IHS, I can say that it has become my second home. At least for the next 4 years, I have been selected and appointed to lead the EUR Holding, an umbrella with 16 organizations, among which IHS as well. So will I stay close and keep in touch!


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