Univ. Amsterdam chair resigns after protests

Head of the UvA Executive Board Louise Gunning addresses the occupants of the Maagdenhuis (Photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times). (Head of the UvA Executive Board Louise Gunning addresses the occupants of the Maagdenhuis (Photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times))

Just over three years after taking her leadership role at the University of Amsterdam, Louise Gunning resigned from the university’s Executive Board on Sunday. She took charge on April 1, 2012, and was a key target for university protesters who occupied the Humanities faculty building, Bungehuis, and the administration building, Maagdenhuis, over a two-month stretch.

Despite the backing of a small group of faculty members, the embattled chairman lost support from hundreds of staffers after giving the go-ahead to evict the occupiers at the Maagdenhuis. Among a myriad of demands, the protesters wanted an increase in democracy at the university and the restoration of programmes cut at the humanities faculty. Gunning and the board put forth a ten-point plan that was overwhelmingly criticised by the protesters, who chose not to deviate from their demands in effort to gain compromise.

The announcement led to a wide-range of opinion on the decision.

“The Board of Trustees have respectfully taken note of Louise Gunning’s decision to step down as chairman of the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. The Board of Trustees speaks with great appreciation for her tireless work with both institutions,” the Board of Trustees said in a statement.

Both the University and Hogeschool, the applied sciences university, “considerably strengthened” their position in the Netherlands and abroad under her leadership, the board said. They praised her work with alumni chapters in New York, China and London, her scholarship and grant fundraising outside of Europe, and making the University overall more international.

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