Columnist Bob van Vliet dislikes the lack of transparency surrounding TU Delft’s Supervisory Board. He comes to a far-reaching conclusion.
Bob van Vliet: “The Supervisory Board is a very corporate group of people.” (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

Columnist Bob van Vliet dislikes the lack of transparency surrounding TU Delft’s Supervisory Board. He comes to a far-reaching conclusion.

Lees in het Nederlands

In the ‘Organisation’ tab on TU Delft’s website, the Supervisory Board comes right at the top. Justifiably, as, secretly, they are the boss. The members appoint and reappoint the Chairperson of the Executive Board, for example. And they are the ones to whom the Executive Board is accountable.

Who has a seat on the Supervisory Board? Do you know? Until recently, I had no idea.

If you look on the website, you will not be any the wiser. There are five surnames, each of which lists a couple of previous positions and employers. It also says that the Supervisory Board has three committees. Who has a seat on which committee is not given. Not exactly informative. The list really only makes one thing clear: the Supervisory Board is a very corporate group of people.

There is something else odd about the list on TU Delft’s website. The only Board member in the group that, at first sight anyway, has any affinity with the public sector was succeeded by a McKinsey consultant early this year. The only way you would know this is if you read the TU Delft newsletter inside out every month.

Apparently, along with our Executive Board, the Supervisory Board shares an aversion for accountability

How would you even join this illustrious group? It seems to be a question of the old fashioned old boys’ network, according to an interview with the member who recently left the Board, Laetitia Smits van Oyen. Not exactly the best way to compile a group of people with diverse ideas.

Luckily, our top bosses are, naturally, completely independent. By definition. The Supervisory Board’s Statutes state: ‘The Supervisory Board states in its annual report that in the judgement of the Board, the principle of independence is observed’. That means not whether it is observed, but that it is observed.

The Supervisory Board’s annual report is a mandatory part of TU Delft’s annual report. However, it is produced strictly in line with the minimal requirements. And that means devoid of any substance, thought process and argumentation. It is purely a summary of the subjects discussed, the documents approved and the number of meetings.

Apparently, along with our Executive Board, the Supervisory Board shares an aversion for public discussion and accountability.

See number 19 of the ‘40 stellingen over de wetenschap’ (40 statements about research) by Bod, Breuker and Robeyns: ‘afschaffen die handel’ (get rid of that stuff).

Bob van Vliet is a lecturer at the 3mE Faculty and is specialised in design education. Reactions are welcome via B.vanVliet@tudelft.nl.