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Jaap van den Herik receives royal distinction on his retirement

Jaap van den Herik was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau on 8 October on his retirement as professor of Law and Information Technology.

After delivering his farewell address on 8 October, Van den Herik had a pleasant surprise: he was awarded a royal decoration. He owes his appointment as Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau in part to his scientific research over many years, but also to his volunteer work.

Pioneer in artificial intelligence

Van den Herik has worked for Leiden University since 1984, at the interface between law and information technology. In 1988 he was appointed professor of Law and Information Technology at the Center for Law in the Information Society (eLaw). Since 2014 he has also been affiliated with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), where he was co-founder of the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS). He is also a pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence, a field that is growing in importance. 

Study and career

The emeritus professor studied Mathematics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he graduated in 1974 with distinction. In 1975 he became a lecturer at Delft University of Technology, obtaining his PhD there in 1983. He had an appointment at the School of Computer Science at McGill university in Montreal, Canada, and was a professor at the University of Maastricht from 1987 to 2008. This was followed by appointments as a professor at the University of Tilburg and Leiden University. 

Volunteer work

Besides his exceptional scientific career, Van den Herik is also well known for his volunteer work. He was co-founder of the Computer Chess Association (CSVN), and was always willing to provide the commentary at world-famous chess competitions between man and computer. He was also a board member for many years of the Socrates Humanist Foundation, the department of the Humanist Alliance that concerns itself with science and culture.  

Word of thanks

In his closing speech, Van den Herik expressed his thanks to the Royal House. 'I am absolutely delighted with this honour, and truly appreciate this sign of appreciation.'   

Photos: Monique Shaw

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