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The end of an era: Corinne Hofman’s term as Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology has finished

During the Faculty Staff Meeting of August 28th, Corinne Hofman spoke about her time on the Faculty Board. “I look back on a rich decade in which I have seen the Faculty, and the University as a whole, change at a rapid pace.”

A turbulent period

For 11 years, Corinne has been a member of the Faculty Board. From 2007 to 2013, she served as Vice-Dean and Chair of Education, after which she was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology. It turned out to be a turbulent period, beginning with resistance against plans to fuse the Faculty of Archaeology with one of the other larger Faculties. Later on, the Faculty moved from the Reuvensplaats to the Van Steenis Building, and went through a period of rapid internationalisation and bureaucratisation. “A period of ups and downs in terms of student numbers, returns and finances, increased competition on the grant and job market, and huge societal challenges and changes.”

Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker officially opening the Van Steenis Building in 2014

Moving the Faculty

Corinne reflected on the pros and the cons of moving to the Van Steenis building. “Our move to the Van Steenis building has provided opportunity for growth,  especially for the labs and Archaeological Sciences.” Yet the move also created new challenges. “We are currently dispersed in a massive building which sometimes hampers staff members from communicating on a regular basis.”

Rapid internationalisation

In the past 11 years, the Faculty of Archaeology went through a rapid internationalisation. “It has transformed our Faculty environment into a multi-cultural and diverse community in which diversity policy, international classrooms, and community building are at the forefront.” In 2014, we launched the English- taught Bachelor’s programme, making the Faculty “a key player in the international student market.”

These new activities naturally made an impact on the organisation. “I completely recognise the heavy load that has been put on the shoulders of our staff in this respect, and I am very grateful to everyone’s dedication.”

The English-taught Bachelor's programme makes the Faculty "a key player in the international student market."

Creating the three departments

One of the responses to the challenges posed by the growth, bureaucracy, and complexity was the creation of the three departments. “Their development should stimulate and facilitate our administration, education programme, and enhance synergies between the research groups, never forgetting the independency and freedom of research creativity.”

QS ranking

The Faculty has been extremely successful in obtaining grants, prizes, and awards. “However, competition, earning capacity and focus on excellence has reached its maximum. The Faculty has climbed to 8th position in the QS ranking, an enormous achievement. But the other side of the coin is the weight that lies on the shoulders of our staff, our students, and on the education system.”

Dean’s Lectures series

One of the activities Corinne initiated to enhance community building is the Dean’s Lectures series. “We have invited an array of speakers covering the width of the Faculty’s interests. I am very happy to announce the last Dean’s Lecture with Philippe Descola from the Collège de France, on September 20th.” This event will also serve as a moment to toast the change of the Faculty Board.

One community

Closing her speech, Corinne concluded that “we should be proud of what the Faculty has become as a major player in the field worldwide, but I am also aware of the shortcomings and challenges that we have been confronted with internally, and of the huge effort that all staff members have been asked to deliver.”

“We need to strive at all times to create a community where safety, respect, and loyalty towards each other, and to the Faculty, is at the foreground, and where everybody feels responsible for the three main tasks a University position requires: education, research, and administration!”

Finalising Nexus 1492

Corinne Hofman is now looking forward to returning to her research and to finalising her ERC-synergy project Nexus 1492. Her time will be spent between the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Amsterdam and the Caribbean. 

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