Universiteit Leiden

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Anna Loh

Emeriti professors organise symposium: 'it’s a shame if our knowledge goes to waste'

When professors become emeriti, it usually does not mean they stop working. The Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) will therefore soon have a first: a symposium is going to be organised where all the speakers are emeriti professors. 'Science will always be part of you are.'

'In my environment, many people thought it was strange that I continued to be active in science after my retirement,' says Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, one of the symposium's initiators. 'They thought I was going to travel or something similar, but, having worked at the university for more than 40 years, science is part of my identity.'

Sole emeritus

Consequently, after she retired in 2020, Tieken-Boon van Ostade continued to write articles, edit books and speak at symposia. And when LUCL held a party for staff last year, she simply went along there. 'I was the only emeritus,' she looks back. 'I thought that was so crazy! I then wrote to some colleagues with whom I had a lot of contact. It turned out that they didn’t receive the institute's newsletter, but by far most of them were still busy with their profession.'

Advancing the field

Together with fellow emeritus Professor Ton van Haaften, Tieken-Boon van Ostade therefore organised a lunch for her fellow emeriti, where she immediately suggested not just having a nice meal together, but also organising a symposium later in the year. 'When I hear people talk about eighteenth-century grammar, my field, I sometimes think: so much more has been done on the subject, surely you don't forget to look at that?'

The symposium can fill that kind of gap in the knowledge of younger generations, she thinks. 'Emeriti academics are not gone or written off. Especially in the humanities, where we don't need a lab or other expensive facilities, the commitment to the profession often remains high. Combined with all the knowledge we have accumulated in our careers, that still enables us to really advance the field. I hope a lot of  students and colleagues come and listen to us.'

Retired and kicking takes place on 25 October and consists of four lectures. A second symposium  with a further four lectures will follow in the spring.

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