Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst to get honorary doctorates from Leiden and Amsterdam
Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst will receive an honorary doctorate from both the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam and Leiden University. The VU will award the professor an honorary doctorate for his "contribution to the public debate about coronavirus." Leiden University noted his "important contributions to epidemiology and virology."
According to the VU, Van Ranst was one of the most important advisers to the Belgian Cabinet during the coronavirus crisis. "As a virologist, he is a valued expert and interpreter in the media. Van Ranst also makes his voice heard on Twitter and speaks out against skeptics. As a result, he is regularly the target of lawsuits and threats."
The fact that scientists cannot speak freely is "worrying," says Rector Magnificus Jeroen Geurts from the VU. "Especially in times when misinformation and ignorance lead to polarization and unrest in society, scientific communication is indispensable," said Geurts. With the honorary doctorate, the university wants to emphasize Van Ranst's perseverance and courage.
Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl of Leiden University also pointed to Van Ranst as a government advisor during various epidemics. "In addition, you are a tireless communicator, who steadfastly lets the sound of reason be heard through television, radio and newspapers, but also social media," she wrote to Van Ranst, who is a full professor KU Leuven.
On 17 November, Van Ranst will receive his honorary doctorate from the VU during the Dies Natalis celebration. The university is 142 years old this year. On 8 February, it will be his turn in Leiden during their 448th anniversary event.
People who have made an exceptional achievement can be awarded an honorary doctorate. The person may then call himself doctor honoris causa. A person can be awarded multiple honorary degrees.
Reporting by ANP