Leo Huberts says goodbye after nearly 30 years

Professor of Public Administration Leo Huberts will bid farewell to VU Amsterdam after nearly 30 years at the university. Within the faculty, Huberts is considered a dedicated colleague, valued researcher and passionate lecturer.

08/29/2019 | 4:43 PM

“In the meetings with the Faculty Board, Leo Huberts always emphasized the employees’ perspective: ‘Based on our administrative logic, this plan sounds very reasonable, but people are going to say: “Those administrators don’t understand us!” In that way, he always made sure we didn’t end up stuck inside an administrative bubble. That was incredibly valuable”, says Karen Oudenhoven-van der Zee, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Huberts started his career at VU Amsterdam in 1990 as a university lecturer in the Political Science and Public Administration department. While working in these departments, he was involved in various degree programmes. In his later roles, too, Huberts was still associated with various programmes in Public Administration, Organization Science and Political Science. In 1997, he was appointed professor occupying an endowed chair of Police Studies and Criminal Justice, after which he held the chair of Integrity of Governance. In 2007, he was named professor of Public Administration. In all of these different roles, increasing knowledge and passing it on to others have been his greatest passions. “When you work at a university, then your mission is to make a contribution to furthering knowledge, but also to impart that knowledge to others. For example, I have had the privilege of assisting 15 PhD students. It is extremely gratifying to be able to pass on your passion and enthusiasm to young researchers.”

In addition to his academic accomplishments, Huberts made a name for himself outside of the university with his contributions as an expert on the subject of integrity and governance quality, as well as with his annual Political Integrity Index, which gives an overview of all political scandals from the last year. These subjects in particular have been a recurring theme throughout his career. “There’s a ‘dark’ and a ‘bright’ side of power. Take Jos van Rey, for instance, who, as alderman in Roermond, became known for his commitment to the population. And yet, it was that same beloved ‘Joske’ who was sentenced by the highest judicial authority to a suspended term of imprisonment for corruption. Conflicts such as these between dedicated and effective administration on the one hand and honest administration on the other, fascinate me.

When asked if he himself ever considered going into politics, he answers with a resounding ‘no’. “On my 40th birthday, some friends of mine made a collage providing an answer to the question of whether I would be a good politician. The answer was ‘no’. I would be too annoyed with the game. The fact that you can contribute something in academia through research and education counts as well.” Huberts will continue pursuing this passion at VU Amsterdam even after his retirement as a university professor. “I’m going to stay as involved as I can, but I also want to make room for new people. I don’t want to hinder anyone’s progress. And whatever my retirement ends up looking like, I can already look back on a wonderful time here. In spite of all the commotion and tensions that go along with my work, I deeply cherish and value the time I’ve had at VU Amsterdam. The freedom, the research and the education I have had the privilege of providing and the commitment of the management. It’s the best job in the world. Despite having had a wonderful time, I also look forward to a period in which I have more peace and quiet and space to make my own choices, particularly where research is concerned.”

Read the Volkskrant article about Huberts' farewell (Dutch).