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Stephan Hacker elected into the board of Assistant Professor Network Netherlands

Dr. Stephan Hacker, an assistant professor in the department of Molecular Physiology at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry of Leiden University has been elected secretary of the board of APNet, the Assistant Professor Network Netherlands. Hacker will take a leading role in the young network organisation in its growth towards maturity, representing all assistant professors in the Netherlands in policy and decision-making at the national level.

The newly elected APNet board. Standing, from left to right: loana llie (UvA), Anouk Beniest (VU), Stephan M. Hacker (UL), Martin Skrodzki (TUD). Seated, from left to right: Luisa Cortesi (EUR), Athina Vidaki (EUR), Anne de Bruijn (VU).

Founded in June 2022, APNet aims to become a core organisation in the Dutch academic landscape representing assistant professors and equivalent researchers in universities and research institutes across the country. Through APNet, assistant professors have “a seat at the table” with organisations such as the Dutch Research Council NWO, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Universities of the Netherlands, education unions, ministries, and individual universities.

“We are a growing organization, that is making its way through the Dutch landscape, which includes over 5000 assistant professors”, Ioana Ilie, president of APNet says. “To effectively represent these and voice their opinion, increasing the number of APNet members will be instrumental.” APNet already kick-started a promotion campaign to raise awareness. This includes, amongst others, regular meetings with the aforementioned Dutch organisations. More recently APNet is discussing European initiatives for recognition and rewards such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment COARA

Another challenge the recently installed board is taking on is enhancing the diversity of the APNet membership. Since most of the board members are from beta and gamma sciences, outreach is currently somewhat limited to this specific audience. “We are aware of this”, Ilie acknowledges, “Enhancing diversity across the Dutch universities and across disciplines is definitely on our agenda. Attracting more members from the humanities is a concrete goal for the years to come.”

To achieve success with APNet, it is important to the board to maintain close communication with APNet members and promptly address inquiries from officials. “This of course goes hand in hand with financial stability. We currently rely only on membership fees. This enables us to organize live events for our members, such as the yearly general assembly, but we would like to strengthen our organisation and bring our community together more often, to network and share experiences. To do this, we hope to secure financial support from external sources.”

About APNet

APNet provides solicited and unsolicited advice to national officials on issues concerning assistant professors. It relies on the input from its members and aims to bring this information to the governing bodies in the attempt of making a change. As an example it recently provided feedback to the ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) on the implementation of the starter and incentive grants at the various universities in the Netherlands, voicing the concerns of its community.

APNet also organizes regular (online) events with invited speakers on topics of interests. For example, an event together with the AoB education union covered the important aspects in the “transition from tenure-track to career track” and addressed the concerns raised by APNet members when going through the process. APNet collaborates with the Young Academies and supports their initiative on “Everyone Professor”. APNet organizes monthly online lunch meetings to touch base with its members and to identify issues that require immediate attention. 

The APNet organisation

APNet functions via a board and five committees. The current members of the board are from the University of Amsterdam, Erasmus University and MC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University and TU Delft. This ensures communication and presence throughout all parts of the country. APNet operates via committees that organize online and live events on various topics of interest. Currently there are five committees focusing on “Research & Career Policy”, “Support & Funding”, “Communication & PR”, “Equality, Diversity & Inclusion” and “Network Growth & Sustainability”. Any APNet member that is driven and wishes to make a change can become active in any committee.

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