‘This “transfer” shows the impact of our university’

Prof. Silvia Lenaerts of University of Antwerp becomes new rector in Eindhoven

Prof. Silvia Lenaerts, vice-rector of UAntwerp, becomes the new rector magnifica of Eindhoven University of Technology. ‘That someone is “plucked” from our university to become rector elsewhere makes us proud’, says Rector Herman Van Goethem. ‘Silvia has fundamentally strengthened UAntwerp’s external network.’

At Belgian universities, a new rector is traditionally elected by the academic community: anyone from students to professors can cast their vote. In the Netherlands, there is a different process: a new rector is selected and appointed by the university’s Supervisory Board after international headhunting. That honour falls to Prof. Silvia Lenaerts – she will become the first female rector of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) on 15 May.

Since 2007, Lenaerts has led the Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology Group that she founded in Antwerp. She has also been vice-rector of Valorisation & Development since 2016. In this role, she serves as a catalyst and connector for Antwerp’s innovation ecosystem.

Strong leadership

‘We are extremely pleased and proud to be able to appoint Ms. Lenaerts as the new rector magnifica’, says Peter Wennink, President of the TU/e Supervisory Board and CEO of the Dutch high-tech company ASML. ‘The Advisory Committee was unanimously enthusiastic about her qualities. In her, we see a strong rector, a top scientist with extensive experience in research and education. She offers compelling connecting qualities, strong leadership and excellent complementarity with the two other Executive Board members. We are convinced that together they make up the ideal board to shape and guide the major expected developments at the university.’ 

‘I find it an honour and a pleasure to take on this responsibility at TU/e – a top university with a central role in one of Europe’s strongest high-tech ecosystems’, says Silvia Lenaerts. ‘I believe in people and the connections between people. I believe in growing together through trust, openness and long-term cooperation in order to build a smart and sustainable society together. I’m very much looking forward to working together with everyone at TU/e.’

‘Of course, I still share much affection for UAntwerp. We have grown into a fully-fledged player in creating added value for society. We do this by delivering well-educated people and through excellent research, but now certainly also through innovation. I will do my utmost to provide the best support to my successor so that Antwerp can continue to grow.’

Continue building

In Antwerp, Lenaerts was one of the driving forces behind the valorisation policy – the capitalisation of scientific knowledge. ‘We are very grateful to her for that’, says Herman Van Goethem, UAntwerp’s rector. ‘The structure is there, so we can build on that. Needless to say, we wish Silvia all the best in Eindhoven. It is quite an honour to be recruited for such a great position. This “transfer” also shows the impact of our university.’

In consultation with his policy team, Rector Van Goethem will propose to the Board of Governors a candidate successor, who is committed to consolidating, deepening and broadening the university. Silvia Lenaerts will remain in office until mid-May.