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Dear Harvard as a model

Dit artikel door Drs. Henri Geerts is gepubliceerd in Univers

Dear Harvard as a model,

geplaatst: 04-06-09

For many years I was deeply impressed by all the Nobel Prize winners and all the successful scientific magazines you deliver. It was in the late nineteen-nineties that I also considered for the first time the ambiguity of your successes.
Remember the Enron scandal? The firm happened to be a very serious fraud case. Many employees lost their jobs, many shareholders lost a lot of money - and in quite a lot of cases these were even the same persons. And we saw some people standing between police officers on their way to court. They were the people who were responsible for the greatest crack-up of a US firm for many years. Maybe you remember their names and faces - although they are now twenty years older. They were the CEO's - Jeff Skilling - and the CFO's who had a very nasty involvement in this debacle.
One question, "Where were these people educated?", has lingered somewhere in a niche in my brain since then. And last year it popped up again when some huge banks collapsed. It was then that I saw other faces you've seen before. The faces of the bright leaders of the merchant banks. Lehman Brothers fell, after a respectable past, in very short time; other banks had to be saved by the state (RBS). And like Enron, these banks were led by Harvard alumni.
You, my dearest 'Harvard as a model', are inspired by two thoughts. First, 'People we educate should make a difference'. Second, 'They're the leaders of the future'. And in this respect you are a model, an icon and an ideal for my small university near the Belgian border. Of course I know that your annual budget is more than the complete research budget of our Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences. But still, our aims are as ambitious as yours.
I'm really grateful to you now, after all the dramatic developments, that some people here are starting to rethink the way we educate our students here in Tilburg. We are seeing a wonderful new and sincere interest in the types of issues which were leading questions for professors here like Cobbenhagen, the founder of our University. We will work on them - with students from Asset and Extra Muros, students from Menara and D'Artagnan, and so many others. These questions concern our values and our ideals. And maybe we can see you more realistically. All the best.
Drs. Henri Geerts, Academic Forum