University of Amsterdam: Machiel Keestra appointed new Central Diversity Officer

Keestra is being appointed for a period of three years, with a possible reappointment for another three years. He will also remain an assistant professor at the UvA’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. Keestra will succeed Anne de Graaf, who held the position of Central Diversity Officer until 1 September 2021.

The chosen candidate received the unanimous support of a broadly composed appointments committee, including members from the CDO team, P&O and the representative advisory bodies (the Works Council and the Central Student Council). The nomination also had the support of an advisory committee including various Faculty Diversity Officers.

The role
Diversity is a common thread in the UvA’s Strategic Plan 2021-2026: ‘Inspiring Generations’. The Central Diversity Officer contributes to the realisation and implementation of policies in the area of diversity and inclusion, in collaboration with the relevant staff departments. The CDO answers directly to the Executive Board and forms part of a programme team, including the HRM and Academic Affairs departments. The CDO collaborates closely with the Faculty Diversity Officers and also forms part of a national network in which expertise is shared and joint projects are carried out.

Machiel Keestra: collaboration at all levels
Machiel Keestra: ‘I see it as a challenge to coordinate and support the increasing number of diversity and inclusion initiatives that are taking place in the various faculties. This will enable us to jointly enhance the diversity and inclusiveness of the UvA even more effectively. This is absolutely crucial, which is why I am both honoured and enthusiastic, having been given the opportunity to contribute as a Central Diversity Officer.’

‘Men like me often fail to deliver in this context, and I have noticed this at numerous meetings in recent years. All the same, the change must ultimately also be achieved with the help of all these white (in my case also grey) middle-aged men in the organisation. The responsibility for these changes should not rest only with the people who often have a more difficult time anyway. I am also very aware of the limitations and privileges of my position, and as a Faculty Diversity Officer have therefore always specifically sought out collaborations and exchanges with the most diverse members of the faculty community. I look forward to doing this across the university and am therefore grateful for the trust bestowed on me by the various UvA communities in this new role.’

Making connections with a D&I vision
Geert ten Dam, president of the UvA Executive Board, is looking forward to the collaboration, ‘Machiel has been contributing to diversity and inclusion for years, both inside and outside the UvA. As Faculty Diversity Officer at the Faculty of Science, he really put the theme on the map with his Diversity Office and Sounding Board. He has organised numerous activities for – and often together with – staff and students. Machiel is good at getting people to take action and always seeks out connection and dialogue. For example, he was the co-initiator of the Keti Koti Dialogue Table. The appointments committee is confident that, with his intrinsic motivation, commitment and clear vision, Machiel will be able to take the theme of diversity, equality and inclusion to a higher level at the UvA.’