Vice president Jo van Ham leaves TU/e with a knighthood

The mayor of Meijerstad, Kees van Rooij, was present in Atlas yesterday to present outgoing vice president Jo van Ham with the decorations that go with a knighthood in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. The knighthood came as a surprise to Van Ham, who said to be touched by all the beautiful words. Van Ham did have one final official ribbon-cutting ceremony to perform when care robot Hero suddenly malfunctioned during the opening of Atlas.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

One of the speakers pointed out that Jo van Ham had managed to perfectly synchronize the official opening of Atlas with his farewell as vice president of the Executive Board after more than ten years. Van Dam was honored with speeches throughout the day, and his past was thoroughly disclosed in the main lecture hall of Atlas. From his short-lived career as trumpet player and drummer in the Sint Jozef brass band during his youth, to his ‘restless’ hippie years as a law student in Nijmegen and his long-term career at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW).

Former rector Hans van Duijn gave the most ebullient speech. He said to have had some reservations when Van Ham took office: “Not only did he vote for the liberal VVD party, he was also an Ajax supporter and he came from Limburg.” Van Duijn said his relationship with Van Ham soon became close and he proceeded to praise his former colleague for all his accomplishment within his fields of activities. “Jo made sure there was money, which I was then able to spend.” He told Van Ham somewhat cynically that he better enjoy this moment. “The next time people will have this much attention for you as person, it will be at your funeral.”

Van Ham also received video messages with compliments on his work for Eindhoven and the region (from former mayor Rob van Gijzel), for the realization of the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (from former mayor Ton Rombouts), and for his work at OCW (from former minister and former boss Jo Ritzen). Provincial executive Bert Pauli was present to praise Van Ham for his vision for European and international developments, and for his efforts for the province of Brabant.

During the opening ceremony of Atlas, Van Ham, who had pinned his royal decoration to his lapel, suddenly had to cut the red ribbon together with Chairman of the Executive Board Jan Mengelers. Care robot Hero, who was supposed to perform this task, shut down because of an overload of wifi traffic and refused to carry out his duty at the decisive moment. But, as usual, Van Ham did not hesitate to do the job himself.

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