In memoriam: Prof. Jac Vennix

On Saturday 27 January, Prof Dr Jac Vennix, emeritus professor of Methodology, died unexpectedly at the age of 72. Jac Vennix started out as an assistant accountant before moving into academia. Between 1983 and 1988, he worked initially as a research assistant and then as a university lecturer in the Department of Methods and Techniques of Social Scientific Research, at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the then Catholic University of Nijmegen. Subsequently, Jac Vennix worked as associate professor at the Department of Gamma Informatics at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Utrecht University. He returned to Nijmegen as a professor in the 1990s to help design the structure and curriculum of the new department of Business Administration. He was professor of Methodology at Nijmegen School of Management and for several years chair of Business Administration until his retirement in 2016.

He defended his PhD thesis on Mental models and computer models in 1990. With his in-depth knowledge of sociology, research and intervention methodology and system dynamics modelling, he made an important contribution to Nijmegen Business Administration, which focuses on intervention methodology, systems thinking and the social processes in and between organisations. He was known as one of the initiators of the European Master in System Dynamics and for his scientific contribution to group model building, a methodology that has received wide national and international recognition. For his exceptional academic achievements, Jac Vennix received the royal honour of Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2014.   

We have particularly fond memories of our collaboration with Jac. During his time as department chair, he was always on the shop floor, talking to all sections and levels of the organisation. He combined keen analytical skills with great social skills. As a manager, he offered clarity and made sensitive issues manageable by talking to people. He was a gifted photographer, and meetings regularly began with the latest nature pictures taken on one of his many trips. He had a clear vision of education and research, and believed that academic researchers in business administration should have worked in business or work in projects for organisations at least one day a week. Jac was didactically gifted and wanted to get the best out of his students. First-year students were invariably treated to classical philosophy of science as a necessary part of their methodological development. He read everything from Russian literature, to Greek philosophers and the latest management books. In his spare time, golf was a favourite pastime, something he had time for especially after retirement.

On Saturday 3 February, a private funeral will be held.

We would like to offer his spouse Loes a book with memories of Jac. If you have any stories or memories of Jac to share, we would kindly ask you to send them to etienne.rouwette [at] before 16 February 2024.

Yvonne Benschop, Inge Bleijenbergh, Etiënne Rouwette and Hans van Kranenburg

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