Cisca Wijmenga is the first female rector magnificus

Genetics professor Cisca Wijmenga will serve as the new rector magnificus at the RUG for the next four years. She is the first female rector since the university was founded in 1614. Hans Biemans will oversee finances.
By Rob Siebelink / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Spinoza Prize winner Wijmenga (photo) succeeds current rector magnificus Elmer Sterken, who will leave the post in July to return to his faculty, Economics and Business. Wijmenga is the first female rector and the second female board member in the university’s 405 years of existence.

Hans Biemans (currently the head of corporate control) will replace Jan de Jeu, the financial person on the university board.


‘Cisca Wijmenga is a celebrated academic who will be leading our educational and research efforts. Hans Biemans is a valued and experienced leader of corporate control; our finances are in good hands’, says Tjibbe Joustra, chair of the RUG’s Supervisory Council.

Board president Jouke de Vries looks forward to working with them. ‘I’m really happy with their appointments. They make a great pair: a Spinoza Prize winner and a financial specialist.’

Wijmenga and Biemans will start their new jobs on September 1. That is when Elmer Sterken and Jan de Jeu will leave their posts.


Cisca Wijmenga (1964) is a prestigious scientist who has made important contributions to understanding the genetics of complex and often chronic ailments like gluten intolerance.

In 2015 she was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the most important Dutch research prize. She is also an experienced manager who has had impact both in the Netherlands and abroad. Academic freedom is very important to her, and she has been an inspiration to her students and colleagues.

Foremost adviser

Hans Biemans is one of the foremost advisers to the board of directors when it comes to finances and real estate.

He’s got a long, positive track record at the RUG and outside the university: he’s served as consultant for KPMG, policy adviser for the CNV union, and the League of Dutch Architects.



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