Robert-Jan Smits. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

Succession in the Executive Board arranged at an early stage

In the spring of 2019 EU top executive Robert-Jan Smits (1958) will succeed Jan Mengelers, whose retirement is scheduled for halfway through 2019, as President of the Executive Board. Early in 2019 the present Secretary of the University, Nicole Ummelen, will take up office in the Executive Board as vice-President. At this moment that position is held by Jo van Ham, who is also retiring by mid-2019. With this early announcement the Supervisory Board says it wants to ensure strong continuity within the administration.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

Depending on a decision by the European Commission, where he is currently employed as special advisor for open access and innovation, Robert-Jan Smits will in the spring of 2019 succeed President of the Executive Board Jan Mengelers, who is going to retire by mid-2019.

Smits is former Director General Research and Innovation of the European Commission. He was the architect of the large-scale innovation program Horizon 2020 and responsible for the setup, the introduction and the implementation of the 80-billion-euro subsidy program for research and innovation. He has also given shape to the run-up to the future innovation program, Horizon Europe (covering 100 billion euros). At the opening of the Academic Year at TU/e on September 3 Smits was one of the speakers.

In the press release about the new appointments disseminated this morning Smits says that he is convinced that universities need to find a stronger link with society and the challenges it faces. In his new role as President of the TU/e Executive Board he will devote attention to that both on the national and the international stage. He says that he has also made a deliberate choice for TU/e, “because it is embedded in a strong high-tech region. Here the university and the industrial sector are jointly achieving the inconceivable”.

Nicole Ummelen (1968), Secretary of the University since June 2012, says in the press release that she is looking forward to her new job: “I have been actively involved in the strategy which we as a university have worked out for the future. Moreover, in the years past I have been part of and have facilitated the positive development of TU/e in all its aspects at a very close range. To give substance and direction to the continuity of that policy and the new strategy in a new role is significant and challenging for me.”

Ummelen is quite familiar with the world of academia. Before starting at TU/e six years ago, she had worked for other universities. She has obtained a PhD in Technical Communication at Twente University.

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