Foreword from the Executive Board
Once again, 2021 was a turbulent year. We remained in the grip of the pandemic. We started the year with a lot of working and studying at home and adjusting to all the measures. Around the summer, things seemed to be going better and, in September, we were able to return to our campus and encounter each other again at least in part. Unfortunately, stricter measures forced us to end the year primarily at home again. The lack of in-person contact in the first and, unfortunately, in the last months of the year has made use even more keenly aware of the importance and value of our sense of community. Fortunately, however, even under these circumstances, teaching was able to continue until a week before Christmas, thanks to the efforts and agility of everyone involved. Given the time and energy consumed by the pandemic, it was not always possible to achieve as much progress as we would have liked in all our tasks. It was a particularly difficult time for students. It is hard to miss classmates, friends, and socialization that are an integral part of a good student life.
Even more than in 2020, we members of the EB, together with our deans, are proud of the perseverance, flexibility, and resilience of our colleagues and students. We are proud that we have worked so hard to keep the University up and running. We have learned so much from coping with the pandemic, particularly with regard to the possibilities of digitalization. As a university at the heart of society, we are proud that our research has been able to contribute to coping with the consequences of the pandemic. Once again, academic staff members from Tilburg University cooperated with the Municipal Health Services (GGD), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (ETZ), and local authorities with regard to behavior, welfare, social consequences, and vaccination logistics. Studies called attention to people with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic. Research on fear of needles raised awareness concerning people who are afraid of shots.
In 2021, many additional tasks were performed in association with the pandemic. We also developed a new strategy in 2021. Entitled Weaving Minds & Characters: Strategy Towards 2027, this strategy is based on four central values: Connected, Caring, Curious, and Courageous. These values provide direction to our behavior and our choices. Many colleagues within our academic community, as well as external parties, have engaged in intensive discussion concerning what will be needed in the coming five years, as we approach our 100th anniversary. Many people provided input for, contributed to and helped in the writing of an inspiring new direction. Intensive links were sought with the strategy-forming process within the Schools. In addition, many informative and inspiring discussions were held with staff, alumni, and students, as well as with parties from outside our University community. We truly enjoyed all the dialogues and valuable insights during the creation. With our new strategy, we are on our way to a new century for Tilburg University.
Proceeding from our responsibility to society, we continue to attach importance to setting an example through the sustainability of our campus and activities. In 2021, major efforts to this end were accomplished with the successful Towards a Sustainable University program. Because of this program, Tilburg University received the award for Most Sustainably Improved University in 2021. Our ambition is to rise even higher.
We of the EB are also very pleased with the steps taken within the framework of Recognition and Appreciation. Individual staff members, supervisors, and teams have been facilitated in the expansion of their self-awareness and in entering the dialogue within the cooperation. This helps immensely in the realization of system and culture change towards a more equal appreciation of talents relating to education, research, societal impact, leadership, and team spirit. For all staff members, cooperation with colleagues and students is important—within and outside the University, as well as nationally and internationally. We are all part of our academic community, and we strive to ensure that everyone will feel this way and act accordingly.
Together with our new strategic plan, the knowledge and expertise that the past year has brought us provides a solid foundation and a great deal of inspiration for the year that is yet to come. United with each other and society, we are going to proceed with curiosity and courage to provide a bright future for education, research, and impact.
Wim van de Donk
Rector Magnificus and President
Vice Rector Magnificus