Not our Dean? Students should have a say in appointing the Dean of their Faculty

The Faculty of Arts is currently in the process of searching for a new Dean, as Gerry Wakker will pass the baton to a new head of the Faculty in September. DAG Arts wants to have students involved in the selection procedure, but they are being left out by the Faculty Board. It states it´s not possible, but the argument is not at all convincing.

By Bart Hekkema / DAG ARTS

The Faculty of Arts is currently in the process of searching for a new Dean, as Gerry Wakker will pass the baton to a new head of the Faculty in September. At this moment an advisory committee has to be appointed. The student factions wanted to have at least one student as representative of the academic community in the advisory committee, which is already common practice (and legal requisite) for the appointment of a new chair of the University Board and the Rector Magnificus. The whole council agreed on this matter but the Faculty Board (which received orders from the Bureau) insisted that only one representative, which had to one of the academic staff, would be able to be part of this advisory committee. That means that we were fobbed with not a single convincing argument.

Regarding the appointment of a new dean the Law on Higher Education (Whw, article 9.13) states that a new dean is ‘appointed, suspended or fired’ by the board of the university. The dean has to be Hoogleraar. If we then zoom in to the Bestuurs-en beheersreglement, which are the regulations of the University of Groningen, there is nothing that states something about the appointment of a new dean.

The regulations of the Faculty of Arts (Hoofdstuk VIII Benoemingsadviescommmisies Artikel 48) however state that when somebody has to be appointed to Hoogleraar, thus prior to the appointment as dean, an advisory committee in which also a student resides is mandatory. (¨Het Faculteitsbestuur stelt ter voorbereiding van een advies aan het College van Bestuur over de benoeming van een hoogleraar in de faculteit, een commissie in. Van de benoemingsadviescommissie maken in ieder geval deel uit: de decaan, de directeur van het onderwijsinstituut, de directeur van het onderzoekinstituut, waarvan de activiteiten op hetzelfde of aanpalende vakgebied liggen, een hoogleraar van buiten de eigen instelling en één studentlid¨).

Of course, the benoemingsadviescommissie (BAC) only has advisory rights, as the dean will eventually be appointed by the board of the university. Besides that, we would like to point out that the board of the university is already appointed after the suggestions of an advisory committee, in which also a student resides. This is mandatory, according to Article 9.3 in the Law on Higher Education (WHW)

The legal documents state nothing about the composition of the advisory committee for a new dean, only if someone has to be appointed as Hoogleraar. Our conclusion is thus that there are no legal grounds on which to defend the choices that are being made in regards to the composition of the BAC in the process of appointing a new dean at the Faculty of Arts. If there are better arguments than ‘‘two members of the faculty council in the BAC is not discutable’’ and ‘‘They only want staff-members in the BAC as representatives of the academic community’’, we are interested to hear them.

Especially the fact that the whole elected body of the Faculty Council asked for a student member in the advisory committee and is simply ignored by the board, shows that there´s a huge lack of democratic decision making. Of course this argument is also valid for other faculties than Arts, where students in Faculty Councils might be confronted with the same situation. That´s why DAG will keep on striving on both faculty as university level to increase the representation of students.