New members were appointed to the HAS University of Applied Sciences Board of Trustees in both 2018 and 2019: Anita Wouters joined in April 2018 and Albert Vermuë in November 2019. Members of the Board of Trustees are appointed for a period of 4 years, after which they may be reappointed for a further 4 years. The most important task of the Board of Trustees is to supervise the policy and actions of the Board of Governors, as well as the general state of affairs at the institution. The members feel closely connected to the HAS, but an appropriate distance is necessary in order to be able to carry out the supervisory task properly. In this interview, Anita and Albert tell us more about their role.
Anita: “I’ve spent many years as a civil servant and have worked for several ministries. Positions have included responsibility for portfolios such as agriculture, water quality, water safety, and nature and the environment. As I’m now approaching the end of my career, I wondered if I could also serve the public cause in another way. And this is the result: I first became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Spinoza Schools Group, followed a short time later by the appointment to the Board of Trustees of HAS University of Applied Sciences. This role gives me the opportunity to bring together developments in education with the green domain. In light of my green credentials, this is something I was keen to do.”
Albert: “I studied at HAS University of Applied Sciences and have always had a soft spot for the institution. The sectors in which I have worked are all connected with the agrifood and living environment but, over the years, I have drifted further and further away from my primary agricultural roots. I really think it's of added value to be able to go back to my roots in this new position.”
Albert: “Education is the future of a country. Good education provides capital for society. There is currently a hardening of views in society on subjects that go to the heart of the study programmes, and HAS people can build bridges like no other institution can. HAS can play a decisive role in the discussion about the transition within the green sector. There is a certain imprint evident on anyone who has studied at HAS University of Applied Sciences, as well as on graduates from Wageningen University, incidentally. They are people who, with their practical knowledge, can place things in the right perspective. They know their theory, but mainly look at its application and search for solutions. And that is what the Netherlands needs.”
Anita: “Indeed: The Netherlands has the right knowledge in many areas. Now, we just need smart solutions. People from HAS are individuals who find practical problems interesting and enjoy the challenge of discovering solutions. They can play an important role in major societal issues such as food security and climate change.”
Anita: “The Board of Trustees is a good mix of people, who all have their own view on the state of affairs within education and the agrifood sector, and on the role that HAS University of Applied Sciences should take on within this context. We all feel closely connected to HAS, but are able to maintain an appropriate distance.”
Albert: “You need that distance to be able to properly carry out our supervisory responsibilities. You're not a manager; it's a supporting role. Although, we do try to stay close to the organisation.”
Anita: “For example, last year we attended presentations by students who were taking a business module, attended the HAS Food Experience and visited the Christmas market for employees. It's always buzzing at HAS University of Applied Sciences, and it really helps us to get a sense of that buzz.”
Albert: “A lot is changing in society at the moment and this is also having an effect on HAS University of Applied Sciences. I hope that in spite of the inevitable changes, there will continue to be a buzz at HAS University of Applied Sciences and the study programmes will remain attractive for both students and staff.”
Anita: “I wish the HAS University of Applied Sciences a future with high quality education at its heart, and a focus on preparing students for a worthwhile career. Students are responsible for the future; the staff are responsible for their development.”
Albert Vermuë comes from the Dutch coastal province of Zeeland, where he grew up on a farm. After agricultural tertiary education, Albert went on to study agricultural economics at HAS University of Applied Sciences, followed by agricultural economics at Wageningen University. During his career he has worked in various sectors associated with HAS University of Applied Sciences. His previous positions include, for example, General Manager of the Association of Water Boards, Director of Fisheries and Deputy Director of International Affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. And, in autumn 2019, he was appointed Director of Environmental Policy at VNG (the Association of Dutch Municipalities). He has also been General Secretary of the General European Water Management Association (EUWMA) since 2014.
Anita Wouters studied plant science at Wageningen University. She has held various positions in agricultural policy, including Director of Water and Deputy General Director at the Ministry of Transport and Water Management, and Director General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. She has also worked as an ABDTOPConsultant on complex and politically sensitive issues for several ministries. Until the end of 2019, Anita was Director General of the project Groningen Bovengronds on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Spinoza School Group and a member of the Advisory Board of Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch Forestry Commission).