Caroline Pauwels re-elected as rector of VUB

Summary

With 91% of the vote, Caroline Pauwels has a clear mandate to lead Brussels’s Dutch-speaking university for another four years

At the heart of Europe

Caroline Pauwels (pictured) has been re-elected as the rector of VUB for another four-year term with 91% of the vote. “This clear mandate of trust in my policy plans motivates me more than ever to continue to build on the growth of VUB as a research-driven educational institution in our diverse Brussels, with a strong European and international grounding,” said Pauwels in a statement.

Pauwels, 55, was running for the position of rector unopposed. She still had to win a majority of the votes cast by all voting groups – academics, independent academics, administration and technical staff, workers at Brussels University Hospital and all students.

Voters were allowed to cast no votes if they were not in favour of Pauwels’s re-election. In the end, she won a majority of votes in all groups to reach a 91% average majority.

The university was concerned that voting numbers would be heavily affected by the corona crisis, as staff and students are not on campus at the moment. And while only 22% of hospital staff and only 26% of students voted, some 81% of independent academic staff voted. The figure was 54% for other academic staff and 71% for administrative and technical staff.

Growth, research and place in Europe

“I am very grateful to all the VUBers who cast their votes for continuing to show their great commitment to VUB during this corona period by participating in the virtual voting and online debates,” said Pauwels.

Pauwels has promised to continue her policy plan of the previous four years, in which she focused on creating stronger ties with various Brussels communities, emphasising VUB’s strengths as a research institution and establishing its reputation as a humanist-oriented university.

She mentioned three areas of focus in the coming four years. “I will focus more on building a solid framework for growth,” she said. “VUB must continue to grow without sacrificing quality and individuality.”

The European academic landscape is undergoing major changes, and VUB must clearly position itself as a pioneering Flemish university in multicultural Brussels

- Rector Caroline Pauwels

She will also “invest vigorously” in VUB as a research-driven educational institution with a pioneering approach. “By joining forces and collaborating, we create space for fundamental, applied and translational research. Innovation and research strengths should further help us to make the right strategic choices.”

Finally, VUB’s position in Europe, and the world, must remain strong, she said. “The European and international academic landscape is undergoing major changes, and VUB must clearly position itself as a pioneering Flemish university in multicultural Brussels, with a strong European grounding – such as in our Eutopia network – and international orientation. From the centre of Europe we want to continue to connect with the world.”

Pauwels is a big fan of Flemish rapper Brihang, who will play a concert for the VUB community in celebration of her re-election at the beginning of her mandate in the autumn. This will be Pauwels’s second and final mandate as rector of VUB. Flemish university rectors are elected for a period of four years and can be re-elected just once.

Photo ©Els De Nil/VUB