On behalf of the entire UAntwerp community, Rector Herman Van Goethem offers his heartfelt condolences to the family and the many friends and colleagues of Alain Verschoren.
Alain put our university on the map
On Thursday night, Prof. Alain Verschoren, honorary rector of the University of Antwerp, died unexpectedly. 'Without Alain, our university wouldn't be where it is today,' reacts rector Herman Van Goethem. 'His contribution was invaluable.'
Alain Verschoren moved to Antwerp at a young age. He went to school at the Royal Atheneum Antwerp, and then went on to study mathematics at the RUCA (Rijksuniversitair Centrum Antwerpen). After graduating, he stayed and developed his academic career there. And with success, because in 2001 he was elected rector of the RUCA. He was to be the institution's last rector, because in 2003 the RUCA joined forces with the UFSIA and the UIA to form the University of Antwerp.
Verschoren had always been a great supporter of the merger. 'If I'm not the last RUCA rector, we will have failed,' he said. Prof. Francis Van Loon became the first rector of the University of Antwerp. As chairman of the Board of Governors, Verschoren helped outline the growth plan for the first few years. In 2008, he became rector himself. Four years later, the mathematician was elected to a second four-year term.
'Alain felt that Antwerp deserved a major university, and he personally did more than his share to make that happen,' says Herman Van Goethem, who succeeded Verschoren as rector in 2016. 'His contribution cannot be underestimated. The numbers of students doubled during his term of office. Alain put our university on the map, without a doubt. Today we are a force to be reckoned with, in every aspect.'
Verschoren, under whose tenure the Middelheim, Groenenborger and Drie Eiken campuses were given new buildings, was also a champion of higher education in Antwerp in general. He was chairman of the Antwerp University Association for three years. In 2013, he oversaw the successful integration of the college programmes.
While policy matters took up the bulk of his time and energy, Verschoren never lost touch with the art of teaching. Every year, he would make the time to supervise mathematics students at the University of Tenerife. Spain was one of Verschoren's passions. As was James Joyce. The former rector collected versions of Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses in almost fifty different languages.
Alain Verschoren was 66 years old when he died in Tenerife, leaving behind a wife, two children and two grandchildren. On behalf of the entire UAntwerp community, Rector Herman Van Goethem offers his heartfelt condolences to the family and the many friends and colleagues of Alain Verschoren.