Mirjam de Baar reappointed as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Humanities
Mirjam de Baar has been Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and portfolio holder for education of master’s and research master’s programmes since 2016. As a result of her reappointment, she will continue to fulfil this role for an additional four years. ‘Being asked by the Vice-Rector and the Dean to serve a second term on the board is a show of confidence.’
'I have really enjoyed this close collaboration'
After studying History at Utrecht University, taking a PhD at the University of Groningen and holding various administrative positions at the same university, De Baar made the transition to Leiden University in 2016. It initially took her a while to get used to the university’s decentralised organisational structure: 'When I mentioned during an introductory meeting that I couldn’t understand why Leiden didn’t have a university-wide licence for timetabling software, I was told: "That’s something we leave to the faculties. Welcome to Leiden!"'
Nevertheless, De Baar immediately felt at home at the Faculty of Humanities. 'It’s a very broad faculty, with fantastic degree programmes and passionate lecturers and researchers. We offer a huge number of programmes, so it's great that there are two Vice-Deans for education. So far, I have really enjoyed this close collaboration.'
Preparing for the world of work
Over the past four years, De Baar has primarily focused on improving the connection between teaching and research, raising awareness of transferable skills and better preparing master's students for the world of work. 'In 2020, we launched an international programme in collaboration with KU Leuven, the University of Helsinki and Randstad Belgium to raise our students’ awareness of the wider importance of the skills they acquire during their studies. We also joined forces with Randstad Nederland to expand our Humanities Career Service. And, in collaboration with ICLON, we have also set up two-year master's programmes in teaching.'
Change doesn't happen overnight
De Baar has already chalked up several achievements, but she is not finished yet. 'Changing an organisational culture, as we have seen, is a slow and sometimes difficult process.' And it is for precisely this reason that she is keen to serve a second term; she wants to work alongside the departments to achieve, as far as possible, the other ambitions as set out in Leiden’s vision on teaching and learning. For example, she is committed to ensuring that all master’s and research master’s degree programmes continue to be of a high standard and attractive to new students.
The first steps also need to be taken towards realising the ambitions laid down in the new Faculty Strategic Plan: 'For example, the development of a new, interdisciplinary and possibly interfaculty master’s degree programme for Campus The Hague. We also want to start focusing on programmes for people who already have a university degree. This will allow us to reach new target groups.' De Baar has also set herself a personal goal: 'I want to find more time to relax and get some exercise. I haven’t had much chance to do that in the last three quarters of the year, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.'
Mirjam de Baar is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Professor of Cultural History of Early Modern Christianity.