Russia correspondent Iris de Graaf named Alumnus of the Year 2022

The University of Groningen has elected Iris de Graaf, Russia correspondent for Dutch news broadcaster NOS, as Alumnus of the Year 2022.

‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ says the jury, ‘has once again demonstrated the importance of independent journalists who know the facts, give clarity to developments, separate the wheat from the chaff, and allow a variety of perspectives to be heard.  Iris de Graaf is this sort of journalist.’

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she, like many other journalists who felt they were hampered in their efforts to independently report on what was going on, came back to the Netherlands. She recently returned to Moscow.

Journalism master

Iris de Graaf (1991) studied Slavonic Languages and Russian studies in Groningen between 2009 and 2014. She obtained a master’s degree in journalism, writing her thesis on how the MH17 disaster was reported. She ran a fashion and lifestyle blog and joined the NOS to report on youth culture.

Thanks to her knowledge of Russia and her Russian language skills (her grandmother is Russian), she soon landed a spot at the foreign affairs desk at NOS. This led to her being appointed correspondent in Russia in 2020.

Appreciation and encouragement

The University of Groningen has been presenting the annual Alumnus of the Year award since 2009. The prize is both a token of appreciation and encouragement to a former UG student who has made an extraordinary contribution to society, academia, sports, or culture, is a source of inspiration for others, and shows promise for the future.

Previous winners include Jeroen Smit, Jelle Brandt Corstius, Stine Jensen, Monica Arac, Christiaan Triebert, and Sander de Hosson. Laurien Meuter was last year’s winner.

This year, the jury members were rector magnificus Cisca Wijmenga (chair); Laurien Meuter, founder of the Tiny Miracles Foundation and Alumnus of the Year 2020; Wilbert Kolkman, dean of the Faculty of Law; Remco Kouwenhoven, director of alumni relations & fundraising/Ubbo Emmius Fund.


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