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Developments in 2020

In 2020, there were several important developments in relation to our organisation and governance, such as the separation of the university and Radboud university medical center, the discussion about our identity and some management changes.

Demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center

On Friday 11 December, the board of Stichting Katholieke Universiteit, the Executive Board of Radboud University, and the Executive Board of Radboud university medical center jointly adopted a ‘decision to demerger’. With that decision, the demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center became fact from 1 January 2021.

Up to the end of 2020, Radboud university medical center and Radboud University were incorporated into a single foundation – Stichting Katholieke Universiteit (SKU) – whose board oversaw both organisations. From 1 January 2021, each organisation was incorporated into its own foundation. The university will remain in the current SKU and be managed by the current Executive Board. Radboud university medical center will fall under the newly established Radboud University Medical Center Foundation and be managed by the current Board of Directors. Both foundations will have their own supervisory boards.

In a press release, Daniël Wigboldus, President of the Executive Board at Radboud University, said that the separation would not affect collaboration. “Both organisations will continue to work together intensively on, for example, research, education and campus-wide themes such as sustainability and campus development. We are going to strengthen that cooperation; we look forward to doing so.”

Board members called the demerger the right step at the right time. Bertine Lahuis, chair of the Executive Board of Radboud university medical center: “As separate foundations, Radboud university medical center and Radboud University can respond more effectively to changes in our own complex surroundings. And we can also react better to social developments.” Wim van der Meeren, former chair of the SKU board: “Moreover, this enables better and more specific supervision because the members of the supervisory board of the foundation will have specific expertise for either Radboud University or Radboud university medical center.” The members of the supervisory boards of both foundations were announced in the first week of January.

In both institutions, the demerger was preceded by months of careful preparations and study of the legal, financial and tax-based aspects. The process was carried out in close collaboration with advisory and participational bodies, in consultation between SKU, the university and Radboud university medical center, and with the involvement of various organisations and partners.

New Dialogue about Our Identity

In the autumn, the Bishops’ Conference of the Netherlands decided to rescind the “Catholic” designation for Stichting Katholieke Universiteit (SKU), the supervisory body of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center. The SKU deeply regretted the decision but said it would respect it.

This decision followed the ruling of the Enterprise Division of the Court of Amsterdam on 21 July 2020 in a dispute between the SKU board and the Bishops’ Conference. At issue was the way in which the Bishops’ Conference exercised its authority to appoint members of the SKU’s board and the composition of the supervisory boards after the envisaged demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center. The SKU board wanted to limit the influence of the bishops by having them appoint one member to each supervisory board (rather than the bishops appointing all members, which had been the previous practice). The Enterprise Division ruled in favour of the SKU board.

In mutual consultation, the SKU and the Bishops’ Conference will examine how the contacts between bishops, institutes and other relevant organisational divisions at the university can be perpetuated. Both institutions respect the decision of the Bishops’ Conference to withdraw the ‘Catholic’ designation and emphasise that this does not detract from their uniqueness, which arose from the Catholic emancipation movement in the early twentieth century. In keeping with this tradition, staff and students remain connected to each other, according to a statement from the Executive Board.

A broad dialogue has been announced in which all parties are invited to think about a renewed interpretation of their identity. Wilma de Koning, Vice President of the Executive Board, told Voxweb that the bishops are also very welcome to take part in that dialogue. “We have a certain history, and we are proud of it. It would be a shame if all the good things the Church has brought to us were lost.”

Quality Improvement of Support Positions

At the end of 2016, the Quality Improvement of Support Positions Programme was started. It identifies what is going well and what can be improved for all support positions (or columns). That analysis resulted in an improvement agenda, which will be implemented in the existing organisation. In 2020, the audit of the Finance, Control and Procurement Department was completed, and the audit of Computerisation, Automation and the University Library began. These audits were largely conducted online due to COVID-19, but they were nevertheless successful and on schedule.

Progress has been made on the improvement agendas for several other departments, although COVID-19 has caused delays in some areas. The improvements were implemented in the departments of Educational Support, Human Resources, Radboud Sports Centre, Facility Management and Real Estate, Marketing & Communication, and Finance, Control and Procurement.

Continued Development of Radboud Services

The Continued Development of Radboud Services (DORS) project was commissioned by the Executive Board and began in 2019 under the direction of managing director Gerard van Assem. In that project, a new organisational structure and a new management model were developed for the university’s support services. After designing and implementing the main structure of Radboud Services in six divisions and a business office, a new management team was established in 2020. This led to the ability to provide integrated support to the primary processes of education, research and impact. In 2020, we continued to restructure the divisions, aiming for uniformity in message, form and approach.

The Academic Affairs and Campus & Facilities divisions went through a reorganisation process in 2020; Information Services started in the autumn. Careful (online) consultation with stakeholders, staff members and participational bodies has led to supported plans. The final set-up of the Information Services, Finance & Control and Corporate Office divisions will follow in 2021.

One of the reorganised divisions is Academic Affairs. In close collaboration with the faculties, it will support the development and implementation of strategic policy for education, research, impact and students. The former Strategy, Education & Research (SER), Radboud Innovation (RI), Student Affairs (DSZ), and International Office (IO) units have been transformed into six new departments: Research & Impact, Education Affairs, Education Support, Student Affairs, Student Information & Administration, and Institutional Research.

The newly designed departments within Campus & Facilities will together provide easily accessible, quiet or lively places on campus where students, staff members and visitors will feel welcome to study, work, relax, be active or meet. The former units – the Department of Property Management, Facilities & Services, and Radboud Sports Centre – have been transformed into seven new departments: Campus Development, Facility Management, Educational & Study Facilities, Projects & Technical Consultancy, Food & Beverage, Sports, and Business Support.