Richard van Wezel
Richard van Wezel

Richard van Wezel is stepping down as Vice Dean for Research Faculty of Science

In November 2018, Richard van Wezel started as Vice Dean of Research at Radboud University's Faculty of Science. Now his term is over and he will hand over the baton to Tom Heskes in September. "As Vice Dean for Research you work for the benefit of the faculty, collaboration with colleagues from all levels is crucial."

When former dean Lutgarde Buydens asked him to succeed Frits Vaandrager, Richard van Wezel was still director of the Donders Center for Neuroscience (DCN). His term was about to expire, and the position of Vice Dean for Research appealed to him. "This position gave me the opportunity to look beyond the Donders Institute and that suits me. I am always interested in my research, and also in addition to it," says Van Wezel.


Van Wezel started the position of Vice Dean with an open mind. "As Vice Dean for Research, you work as part of a team, you work for the benefit of the faculty. You cannot have your own agenda and go purely for your own goals. As a faculty board, you discuss together what the goals are for the faculty. These are broadly defined: colleagues must be able to work comfortably, students must receive good education. I find the breadth of the work very interesting."

Staff's career development

"Of course there are certain preferences, things that require a little extra time. For example, I found the staff career development directive very important. My predecessor had already prepared a new directive and it still had to be implemented. A new revision of that directive has just been completed. There is a personal goal of mine in this: I think the old image of a professor with 'his' assistant professors and associate professors is a bit outdated. That Tenure Track system in which people have to meet all kinds of criteria for six years and only then can get a permanent job, that has to change. We have therefore transformed this in the new guideline, so that everyone can better shape their own career. The new Collective Labour Agreement helped us with that, and it fitted in perfectly. I hope that this new career development guideline for staff will reduce stress, because people can take more control over their own careers."


"Yet we are not there yet. I think there is still too little attention for postdocs. There is a lot of attention for PhDs: programmes, graduate schools. But relatively little attention is paid to the people who subsequently do research on a temporary contract basis. The postdocs fall a bit between two stools. And that while this group of postdocs is very important for research and education, they are colleagues who do an awful lot. We already pay more attention to this in the guideline."

"As a faculty you want to keep the talented postdocs, we want to train people for certain positions. This does not necessarily have to be a research function. A good first step could be to involve the postdocs more in projects. For example, they could work as a project manager on a research project one day a week. In this way we can help them to acquire skills that they can use in addition to their research competences, skills that will help them further in their career. As far as I'm concerned, there should be much more attention to the career perspective."

Gender policy

"I have always seen gender policy as part of my portfolio. I was on the Gender and Diversity Committee and have been involved in the Mohrmann programme. Gender policy must be there at all levels. You have to keep emphasising that, with all administrative choices: big or small. I have seen it as my job to pay attention to that and to pay attention to it. I think we are on the right track, although we are not there yet. It is more pleasant for everyone, students and staff, if you have a diverse composition of staff."


"One thing I really liked about the position of Vice Dean of Research is that you can see what everyone is doing from all sides. You see a multitude of research topics passing by and you see opportunities for collaboration everywhere. That was also a reason to set up the Interdisciplinary Research Platform. In addition, we have set up an informal consultation on public-private partnerships, so that we can also investigate the possibilities for cooperation in that area."


"I was able to continue to do a large part of my research and teaching alongside my position as Vice Dean. I think that's the great thing about the Faculty Board: you're right in the middle of it all. I do research and education and am part of the board. So you immediately feel how the decisions you make fall. I would also like to pass that on to my successor: keep teaching and researching, then you will immediately feel whether the decisions you make are useful and you will take your experiences from the work floor with you.

Now that I am stepping down as Vice Dean, more time will be available for research and education. I have expanded my position at the University of Twente somewhat, and am working on new educational developments with the Faculty of Social Sciences. I really enjoy managing, and something will probably cross my path in that area too."

About Richard van Wezel

Richard van Wezel studied Biomedical Sciences in Utrecht. He obtained his PhD in neurophysiology at the same university. As a postdoc in Davis, California, he researched the visual system in monkeys. In 2002, Van Wezel received a VIDI for research into the neurophysiology of willpower. In 2008 he started as professor of neurophysiology at the University of Twente, where he is still a part-time professor. From 2014 – 2018 Richard van Wezel was director of DCN.

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