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Annemie Schaus wins vote to become ULB's rector
Annemie Schaus, 55, newly elected rector of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) for the next four years, wants to maintain an “open, united and enthusiastic” university.
The Charleroi-born, Belgian lawyer takes over from the gynaecologist Yvon Englert, who is retiring. Schaus won with 42% of the votes over her three competitors: François Heynderickx, Bruno Van Pottelsberghe and Pascal Delwit.
For Schaus, the vote is a strong sign people now believe in women’s ability to negotiate and to "get their hands dirty". It also shows trust in women generally, she said, welcoming that Brussels’ Dutch-speaking university the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) is also run by a woman: Caroline Pauwels, who was recently re-elected for a second term.
The new rector places social goals high on her priority list: “I want university to return to being a social emancipator,” she said, particularly for the young. Around 133,000 Francophone students needed social aid even before the Covid crisis – including one in three at the ULB, she said. And Schaus, herself a former ULB student, says the situation will worsen after the pandemic.
Former dean of law at the ULB, Schaus wants a broader baccalaureate with general culture lessons. She favours “a more universalist education”, rather than a “completely specialised” one.
For the staff – teachers, researchers and assistants – she aims to cut red tape and administrative tasks. Schaus will also continue her predecessors’ work to achieve more funding.
Other goals include giving “meaning to our academic profession; and, time for research, teaching and collective services,” Schaus said. She is also keen to reinforce the ULB’s standing in the French-Belgian and international university arena.
Schaus becomes ULB's second female rector. Françoise Thys-Clément was the first, from 1990 to 1994.