Assistant professors get ius promovendi (and may even get to wear a toga)

From this week, assistant professors can get ius promovendi at the UG, the right to promote academics.

This allows them to act as promotor for PhD students they supervise. But they may only wear a toga if they are actually promotors.

This was decided by the UG’s College of Deans. Until now, ius promovendi was given to full professors only. Associate professors have been able to apply for the right through their dean since 2017.

Protests

This has led to protests for some time. Assistant professors often have PhD students under their care and put a lot of time and effort into supervising them. But when the time comes for the ceremony, they are sidelined.

This will now change. Assistant professors can be granted ius promovendi under the same conditions as an associate professor. Among other things, they must have a PhD and have shown that they are a good researcher and supervisor.

The dean then has a number of people in the faculty assess whether the candidate will be given ius promovendi. The assistant professor is then also allowed to wear a toga during the PhD ceremony.

Always involved

‘Assistant professors have always been involved in supervision, but in the past could not act as first promotors’, says rector magnificus Jacquelien Scherpen. ‘This new opportunity recognises and appreciates the responsibilities that assistant professors bear in doctoral projects.’

The personnel faction in the UG’s university council – which has long championed the cause – is pleased with the decision. ‘Great steps have been taken’, says council member Jessica de Bloom.

Toma

But there is still room for improvement, she says. The council members also want assistant professors serving on the promotion committee to be allowed to wear a toga. They have been campaigning for this for some time, including by wearing a protest gown, the tunic for undervalued mid-level academics (toma).

But the College of Deans, composed of the faculty deans and the rector magnificus, does not want to go that far.

Straggler

‘This means we’re a straggler behind other universities in the country’, says De Bloom. ‘Leiden, Utrecht, and the University of Amsterdam have already switched to the inclusive gown. That sends a big signal.’

Rector Scherpen isn’t swayed by the argument. The toga as a token of appreciation is also a matter of perception, she thinks. ‘The moment you allow everyone a toga, you still have all kinds of exceptions for people from outside.’

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