News and events Tilburg University

Prof. Karim Schelkens new Dean of Tilburg School of Catholic Theology

Published: 19th December 2022 Last updated: 19th December 2022

The Tilburg University Executive Board has appointed Prof. Karim Schelkens as Dean of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TST). The appointment has been approved by Magnus Cancellarius Mgr Eijk. Karim will start work on February 1, 2023, succeeding interim Dean Prof. Henk Witte. At the moment, Karim is working as TST’s Vice-Dean for Research and a endowed Professor of History of Catholicism in the Netherlands.

Rector Magnificus and President of the Executive Board, Wim van de Donk: “The Tilburg University Executive Board is very pleased with Prof. Karim Schelkens’ appointment as the new Dean of our School of Catholic Theology. He was recruited based on a profile in which the further development of the School is an important task. This concerns both education and research, as formulated in the School’s new strategic plan, that also seeks to connect strongly with the plans of the university as a whole. Professor Schelkens is a renowned scholar and lecturer, and is already serving the School as Vice-Dean for Research. In interviews he has shown that he wants to be an open and transparent leader, focuses on broad connection, collaboration, and accessibility. Via open communication, he inspires and encourages staff and students to collaborate. Binnen the School, he sees an important task to take the vision and strategy developed for the future of the School further in connection and in dialogue with faculty. In a broader sense, he also sees it as his mission to further strengthen and embed the School’s position as part of Tilburg University as a whole. At a national and international level, he is committed to educational collaboration, attracting national and international students, and supporting researchers in national and international networks. The profile that we formulated for this position, together with the School, fits him to a T. We wish him every success in his role as the new TST Dean and look forward to working together.”

Karim Schelkens: “What is first and foremost in my mind is gratitude for the broad support that I have experienced within and outside the School of Theology. Thanks to that support, I can start my work with great enthusiasm and equally great humility. After all, Deans do not operate on their own, they work in a team. The fields of Theology and Religious Studies are facing challenging times. Those who have followed the developments at multiple Schools in the Low Countries will be aware of this. Our School, too, is going through turbulent times so shaping a new strategic policy plan will be a challenge for all those involved, staff as well as students at the Tilburg campus and in Utrecht. Implementing the strategy will be a fascinating experience. There are numerous opportunities to spotlight the multi-form study of and research on Christianity in its many forms in this day and age. Firstly at our own university. Sooner or later, every graduate will be confronted with aspects of religion, in a business context or in court, care, or the online world. Some academically founded knowledge on the subject will certainly be welcome. The TST will be happy to provide that expertise.”


Karim Schelkens

Dr. Karim Schelkens (1977) was appointed at Tilburg University as an endowed Professor of the History of Catholicism in the Netherlands in 2022. Karim is also the TST’s Vice-Dean for Research and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of KU Leuven, Belgium. He studied Theology and Religious Studies in Leuven, where he obtained a PhD in 2007. Schelkens’ PhD thesis was awarded the C. de Clercq Prize of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Research Foundation – Flanders twice and earned a diploma in post-doctoral studies at Laval University, Canada. In addition, as the secretary general of the European Society for Catholic Theology (2012-2018), he was jointly responsible for extending membership of the Society to Romania and Ukraine. Schelkens is also a member of the Academic Council of Saint Ignatius University Centre (UCSIA, University of Antwerp), and used to be a member of the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Domain of Social Sciences and Humanities for the Humanities Free Competition program. Since 2015, Dr. Schelkens has been an Associate Professor of Religious History at Tilburg University. He has authored approximately 200 academic publications (including 20 books) on Religious History in late-modern Europe, the Second Vatican Council, colonial history, and ecumenism. He specializes in historical biography. His monograph on Johannes Willebrands has recently made the longlist for the Dutch Biography Prize (Nederlandse Biografieprijs). Besides his academic work, Schelkens was always socially involved in volunteer work with detainees and undocumented people.