New Executive Board at Eindhoven University of Technology

The Supervisory Board of TU Eindhoven has appointed Robert-Jan Smits and Nicole Ummelen as new members of the Executive Board. Together with incumbent Rector Magnificus Frank Baaijens they will form a strong new team with which TU/e will further extend its position as an internationally leading university. With a view to the future, TU/e's Supervisory Board is providing strong continuity within the administration of Eindhoven University of Technology by making these timely appointments.

Robert-Jan Smits succeeds Executive Board President Jan Mengelers, who will retire in mid 2019. This succession is foreseen for spring 2019, pending a decision by the European Commission. Nicole Ummelen succeeds Jo van Ham as vice president of the Executive Board as per January 1, 2019. Jo van Ham will also retire in mid 2019.

Smits is the former Director-General of Research and Innovation at the European Commission. In this position he has been the architect over the past decade of the large-scale EU Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020. He was responsible for the design, negotiations and the execution of the 80 billion euro support programme for research and innovation. He has also given shape to the run-up to the future innovation programme, Horizon Europe (100 billion euros).

Robert-Jan Smits is convinced that universities must seek a stronger connection with and relevance to society and its challenges. In his new role as president of the Executive Board he will focus on this issue both within the Netherlands and internationally. At present he is the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission and he recently launched the concrete policy proposal intended to ensure that in 2020 all publicly financed academic publications are indeed publicly available (open access).

Robert-Jan Smits is looking forward to his new position: “I am fully convinced about the importance of innovation for our society and the challenges we are facing. In this context, educating young talents and carrying our excellent research are essential! I am deliberately choosing Eindhoven University of Technology because it is embedded in a strong high-tech region. Together and in full partnership, university and industry in this innovation ecosystem are realizing the unimaginable here.”

Nicole Ummelen is currently the university secretary. She is looking forward to her new position: “I have been actively involved in the strategy that we as a university have prepared for the future. In addition, in recent years I have experienced at very close hand and facilitated the positive development made by TU/e in all its facets. To be able, in a new role, to give substance and direction to the continuity of that policy and the new strategy, I find meaningful and challenging.”

Nicole Ummelen knows the university sector well. Before she joined TU/e six years ago, she worked for other universities. Nicole Ummelen holds a doctoral degree in Technical Communication from the University of Twente.

With the new board composition, TU/e has made the deliberate choice of assigning responsibility for day-to-day management to three individuals with a clear distribution of portfolios. The Rector Magnificus is responsible for the primary process: education and research. The vice president of the Board is responsible for business practice and finance. The president of the Executive Board safeguards the strategy and finances, the university's reputation and positioning, and maintains external relations of national and international importance. With these collegial relations, TU/e operates at its strongest and fulfills its mission to educate top-flight talents and conduct eminent research for the service of society.