How I see Radboud - the story of Guillén Fernández

Portrait picture of Guillén Fernández
Looking across borders
Guillén Fernández
Current role
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and director of the Donders Centre for Medical Neuroscience until the end of 2022

Staff and students breath new life into our university's values. This is the story of Guillén Fernández,  Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and director of the Donders Centre for Medical Neuroscience until the end of 2022.

An identity is made up of several facets. When it comes to how the University sees itself and how employees see the University, elements such as our Catholic background and our function as an emancipation university come into play. A clear self-image helps to set out a strategy, to decide which direction to follow. Personally, I would start with a more practical approach. How can the University present itself to the outside world? And why do Dutch and international researchers choose to come here? These questions help to present the hard facts, and to highlight what partnerships the University operates in, and how reliable we are as a partner organisation.

I came to work here in 2002 when the Donders Institute first opened. I’d previously worked in Switzerland, Germany, and the US. These days, I’m involved in hiring Dutch and international researchers myself. Because of my interest in their motivation for choosing a particular country or university, I was curious about how others see Radboud University, and how the University can present itself to the outside world. That’s why I joined the session.

During my years here, I have come to know Radboud University and Radboud university medical center as places where the individual is not forgotten, where people know each other well, and where everyone can talk to everyone. I also see a strong drive to work together – there is little internal competition – in a safe working environment that offers enough challenge. This great atmosphere is, I think, typical of the Netherlands and not specifically of Nijmegen. I therefore think that we’d benefit more from presenting ourselves a Dutch research institution, rather than looking inwards in search of what makes Radboud unique. Internationals mainly look at career opportunities in the Netherlands, and much less at differences between cities and universities. In fact, they may see Nijmegen as merely a suburb of Amsterdam.

Within the university landscape, there are aspects that help Radboud University stand out. Think of our regional appeal, with a location that at the same time encourages looking beyond borders, whether these be provincial borders, national borders, or religious divides. We’re used to seeing multiple perspectives and working with people from different backgrounds. In a world of increasingly complex scientific issues, cooperation between universities and disciplines is a must, both nationally and internationally. This can only work if we make yourself known in the world, if people know our name not only from papers, but also through actual contact. And that is best done by presenting ourselves as part of a network of Dutch universities

- Guillén Fernández