In the 2020 annual report, I concluded my foreword with the hope for a 2021 full of wonderful opportunities to meet and inspire each other. Opportunities for you to get to know all the enterprising researchers and talented scholarship students and to hear at first hand how, thanks in part to your donations, they have been able to change their lives and ensure our university has an impact on the world around us.

Unfortunately, 2021 turned out differently due to coronavirus and we were unable to offer you these opportunities at a major event. It was nevertheless possible to arrange some excellent gatherings in 2021. A number of donors took part in online discussions with scholarship students, for example. One of our committed donors even took some Liberian scholarship students out on the road to enable them to get to know the Netherlands. You can watch the amazing story of the friendship between this donor and the scholarship student George Y. Sharpe from Liberia in the video in this online annual report. It is marvelous not only to hear about the progress of research, but also to see directly the impact that research can have. In April we organized an online game in cooperation with the Zero Hunger Lab in which the participants could discover how to organize food aid as efficiently as possible with the aid of data analysis.

This summer we reached the impressive landmark of 80,000 alumni. 80,000 people who, just like me, will hopefully have many happy memories of their student days in Tilburg. One of those new alumni graduated in the summer: Whinell Bunchee Togar. Thanks to donations such as yours, she can fulfil her dreams in Liberia using the knowledge she has gained in Tilburg.

Not so long ago the University Fund decided to co-finance the research by Elisabeth Huis in 't Veld into needle phobia. That proved to be a very topical theme in 2021! In the fall, this research came second in the contest for the Klokhuis science prize.

During the phone campaign a group of enthusiastic students once again called alumni from home this year. They exchanged stories about their student days and asked the alumni to support the University Fund. And not without success: donations totaling €148,368 were pledged during those calls.

The ceremony for the signing of the Women & Theology Fund finally took place in 2021 in the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology in Utrecht. The Women of Bethany and Tilburg University jointly established this fund with an endowed chair. The signing was attended by a delegation of the Women of Bethany and the Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Mgr. Dr. J.W.M. Hendriks, among others. A donation of €1,050,000 was made to the Tilburg University Fund Foundation, the largest received by the University Fund to date.

We ended the year with a heartwarming campaign on campus. On behalf of all donors, we hung ribbons with dreams for the future in the Christmas tree on campus. The whole university community had an opportunity to share their wish in the tree in exchange for a small donation to the Zero Hunger Lab. That raised an additional €800 for the Zero Hunger Lab. One of the wishes in the tree was for “a vibrant campus without coronavirus”. I would like to echo that wish. And I hope that next year, when Tilburg University celebrates its 95th anniversary, we will be able to meet on a vibrant campus and that we ourselves will be able to hang our wishes in the tree.

It has been my great pleasure to serve as chairperson of the University Fund Foundation since 2017. In 2022 I will pass the baton to Mariëtte Turkenburg. I will nevertheless remain involved as a member of the Board. 

Bert Groenewegen

Chairperson of the Tilburg University Fund Foundation