University of Amsterdam: UvA Honorary Medallions for five special staff members

Five special UvA staff members have been awarded UvA Honorary Medallions. Guido de Wilde, Peter Sloot, Annelies Dijkstra, Hotze Mulder and Peter Vonk received the Honorary Medallions for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of, and service to, the university. Executive Board president Geert ten Dam presented the awards during the annual Medallion Day, which took place on Friday, 17 June, at de Brug on Roeterseiland.

‘All five laureates are highly motivated people with a great passion for their work and for the UvA and the university community,’ says Ten Dam. ‘They always go the extra mile: they take the initiative and are persistent. In this way they have been able to achieve great things for the university and we are very grateful to them for that. We are now making our appreciation widely known by awarding them UvA Honorary Medallions.’

The laureates
Guido de Wilde, manager Global Student Experience & Engagement at Student Services
De Wilde brings people together, takes the initiative and pushes boundaries. In his work, he has fully committed himself to the objectives of the UvA. Thanks to De Wilde’s efforts, the UvA has always been able to anticipate trends in the context of changing generations of students. For example, he initiated the Student Ambassador Programme at the UvA, for which he received the Orange Carpet Award from Nuffic. He is an excellent trainer and designer of new programmes, especially in the field of ‘Cultural Competences’ and ‘Equity, Diversity & Inclusion’. De Wilde is uniquely capable of helping forge connections: between students and educational programmes, between central departments and faculties, and between the UvA and its partner institutions worldwide. He demonstrated this during the corona crisis, always having a constructive attitude throughout an intensive and difficult period. He absorbed the disappointment and anger of large numbers of students and offered support in finding alternatives. The fact that De Wilde is so incredibly successful in what he does is partly because he always involves students across the board, gives them opportunities – without attaching any conditions.

Peter Sloot, professor of Complex Adaptive Systems at the Faculty of Science
Sloot has been one of the main drivers of the interdisciplinary vision of research at the UvA, influential in both Computational Sciences and Complexity Sciences. In the 1990s, he sowed the seeds for the internationally recognised Amsterdam school of Computational Sciences. He was the driving force behind the Computational Science Lab at the Informatics Institute, the Master’s programme in Computational Science, the leading International Conference for Computational Science, and the successful Journal of Computational Science. In addition, he has worked at many levels within the UvA and far beyond to further develop and apply the study of complex systems as a connecting language and method in interdisciplinary research. This approach has since been emulated in many places both within the UvA and elsewhere. One of Sloot’s most impressive achievements is the way in which he initiated the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and, as scientific director, managed to make it a great success with interdisciplinary research, computational and complexity sciences at its core.

Annelies Dijkstra, department head, Office of the Rector
As the Beadle, Dijkstra has been a defining image of the UvA for many years, embodying one of the most important tasks of the university – the training of scientists – in the PhD defences in which this is ceremonially given shape. She gives substance to this visible side of her role with great calm and natural authority. However, she fills the less visible side even more impressively: a PhD candidate is not seen as just another of the hundreds of candidates who are supervised by her every year. She and her team look after every candidate with great care and attention, as they also do with every professor who gives his or her inaugural or farewell lecture in the Aula. Dijkstra guarantees traditions, but at the same time ensures that we keep up with the changing times. This was apparent from how she stood up for the interests of PhD candidates during the corona crisis, those who had worked so long towards their defences, but saw them go up in smoke due to lockdowns. Dijkstra looked for ways to allow planned defences to take place as much as possible and as substantively as possible, using her tenacity and creativity to find solutions. Dijkstra’s ability to be there when the going gets tough was also apparent when she took on the role of head of the Rector’s Office, reorganising the department with a fantastic eye for the qualities of the employees.

Hotze Mulder, former staff member, Faculty of Humanities
Mulder has been a great support to many in various positions and roles for many years, not only within ‘his’ faculty, but also across the UvA as a whole. At the Faculty of Humanities, he oversaw everything related to research policy, such as PhDs, professorial appointments and new chairs, and nominations for awards. With his boundless dedication, he assisted numerous academics and thus managed to strengthen the position of research at the UvA. In addition, the entire university was able to benefit from his in-depth knowledge of dossiers and processes. His expertise was indispensable in, for example, the adjustment of the PhD regulations and the design of UvA policy for joint doctorates, but also in his role as interim head of the Academic Affairs department. Mulder has also been an extremely valuable advisor, especially to administrators, with a special talent for being able to put himself in their position, always with the UvA’s interests at heart.

Peter Vonk, director of the Office of Student Doctors
Due to Vonk’s unwavering dedication, creativity and perseverance, the Student Doctors practice has become a fixture for the UvA and its students over the past 35 years. However, Vonk is not only an inspired general practitioner and practice director, he has also been the driving force behind a large number of initiatives to promote the well-being of students. The mental health of students is very much in the spotlight currently, but Vonk put it on the agenda years ago. Among other things, he oversaw the introduction and successful application of both E-health for UvA students, as well as a student health portal, and he was one of the initiators of the UvA Care programme for students and PhD candidates. One of his greatest achievements has been the realisation of the Health Centre on the Roeterseiland – with his infectious enthusiasm, he went all out to make that dream a reality, driven by his vision of the relationship between physical and mental well-being of students.

About the UvA Honorary Medallions
The Honorary Medallions are intended for persons of all positions, backgrounds and disciplines, from all levels of the UvA. People not employed by the UvA may also be eligible for the Medallion. Nominations for an Honorary Medallions can be made by any UvA employee. Based on the nominations, the Honorary Medallions Committee, chaired by Agneta Fischer (dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences), advises the Executive Board on the awards.