The Value of Values


The university stands at the potential start of significant changes within the organization. The threat of a decreasing intake of international students and the possible combination of faculties looms. Added to this, is a new set of values meant to unite us! Share your opinion, and engage in the debate about it.

Apparently, the current values: Personal, Open, Engaged, and Curious no longer describe the university appropriately. Now everyone can contribute their input for the new values. This week, the first sessions have taken place where 80 staff members and 20 students have provided their opinions for the creation of new values. But what does a new set of values mean for a university and how are you going to feel represented by these values?

According to the Value statement, the values should be a distillation of the TU/e strategy and various codes of conduct. In the document currently explaining the values, it says that Personal stands for the attention we give to each other and a culture of support. Open stands for inclusivity, open science, and tolerance. Engaged represents the challenges of the future, sustainability, but also the code of scientific integrity coordinated with other Dutch universities. The last value, Curious stands for creative talent and thinking outside the box.

If these values are a distillation, it means that we shape our education based on these values. Additionally, it dictates how and with whom we conduct research and how we deal with each other and our differences of opinion. New strategies, codes of conduct and forms of leadership will be tested on the basis of the new values. They will shape the decision-making that affects us all

Values are thus important and significant words that should permeate throughout the entire university. So how is it possible that I, as an active student who has been here for 5 years, am only now truly getting to know them? If the values are so crucial to the culture of this university, shouldn't we see them much more often? Visibility is an important tool to ensure that we become aware of what the values mean to us. This way, you discuss them with your colleagues or classmates and consider whether these values also represent you well. Values will always be personal at first; after all, we all have our own principles and opinions. That's precisely why the input of as many different people as possible is needed to write a valuable new value statement.

Currently, two afternoons are planned where a group of 100 people is invited to discuss values. Amongst other things, the input of this group, will shape the values where the community - around 13,000 students and 3,500 employees - should feel represented by. Values are a reflection of the current culture, aswell as the culture we want to achieve. The shape of  our future research, culture, educations and leadershipforms is dependent on the results  Can a select group of people determine values for such a large group? Values are a reflection of the current culture but also of the culture we aspire to.

Since last week, you can scan a QR code on the coffee machines and screens to share your opinion about the values. Therefore, I recommend everyone to engage in conversations with each other about your own values and the values you find important for the university and to share them via the QR code. Only when everyone can agree on the values and they represent what we stand for as a community, the values become valuable.


Hieke van Heesch is a Data Science student in Business & Entrepreneurship, and is a member of the University Council as Group One's group chair. Views expressed is this column are her own.

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