Willem Witteveen was the founding father of a Bachelor’s program in Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) at Tilburg University. In 2008, he created a truly interdisciplinary program, translating the ancient ideal of the liberal arts curriculum, deriving from classical antiquity and invigorated during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, into contemporary standards and practices.
With this program, students were given the opportunity to seek new forms to achieve the old ideal of a broad intellectual education that connects theory and practice and provides knowledge essential for a free person. Willem Witteveen was a free thinker himself and was curious in exploring many different disciplines. He also loved poetry and regularly used poems to lend force to an argument. The fact that the University College Tilburg is located in the Dante Building is no coincidence. The building was named after Dante Alighieri, the thirteenth century poet, author, and politician from Florence.
From the early beginnings, LAS has been a joint initiative of the five schools of Tilburg University: Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg School of Economics and Management, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences and Tilburg School of Catholic Theology and resides within the Dante Building on the TiU campus. The Liberal Arts and Sciences Bachelor’s program invites skilled and dedicated lecturers from these schools to develop and teach interdisciplinary courses and occasionally also hires lecturers from outside the university for their specific expertise.
In 2015, Alkeline van Lenning succeeded Willem Witteveen as Dean of the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Unfortunately, Willem Witteveen died on July 17, 2014, when flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine, together with his wife and his daughter, Marit Witteveen, who was a student in our program at that time.
In 2016, the Bachelor’s program Liberal Arts and Sciences transitioned into a University College. Henceforth, the University College offers a semi-residential setting to first year students and added the major cognitive neuroscience to the existing four majors in social sciences, humanities, business and law. In 2017, the program also introduced three professional practice elective courses to acquaint students with the labor market and enhance their connection with local communities. Considering the new attributes of the program, soon after, UC received the BKKI. The BKKI is a special label awarded to programs with small-scale and intensive education directed on an above average education efficiency and where the activities inside and outside the curriculum are connected to each other.