Achter Sint Pieter 200 building to become Johanna Hudig building
This year, the staff of the Utrecht University School of Law will move back into a completely renovated Achter Sint Pieter (ASP) 200. The exact moving date is not yet known, but just today, on International Women's Day, we would like to announce that ASP 200 will be named after: Prof. Johanna (Han) Hudig. She was the first female professor at the faculty of Law, Economics and Governance and the first female judge in the Netherlands. The Executive Board of Utrecht University has officially agreed that Achter Sint Pieter 200 will be called the Johanna Hudig Building starting March 8 2023.
Dean Janneke Plantenga, of Law, Economics and Governance is delighted:
Very nice to be able to announce this news just today. We have fought hard to have a university building in the inner city named after a woman. As far as I am concerned, it was also about high time. The head of the Law School, Ivo Giesen, is also particularly appreciative with this choice:
Johanna Hudig, as a young scholar, helped to found our Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology. As extraordinary professor of child rights and child protection, she was already multidisciplinary when that was not yet common. Giesen, along with the other staff members of the Law School, will trade Newton House for the Johanna Hudig Building this year.
We have fought hard to have a university building in the inner city named after a woman. As far as I am concerned, it was also about high time.
Who was Han Hudig?
Until 1947, the profession of judge was exclusively for men. With the appointment of Han Hudig as a children's judge, she was the Netherlands' first woman in the judiciary. She held this position for nearly 30 years. About her work as a children's judge, she said, "I felt at ease in court. I would rather listen than speak. I prepared the hearing well but suspended judgment until I had spoken to the people themselves. I was not a social worker at the hearing but a judge. I did feel like a child protection worker, but as a lawyer and not as a behavioral scientist. I wanted to marginally monitor the process, understand other specialists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Another first for Han Hudig was her appointment in 1957 as Extraordinary Professor of Children's Law at the then Faculty of Law of the then Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht. This made her the first female professor at the faculty of Law, today the faculty of Law, Economics and Governance.
Law is never in all circumstances law, and injustice never in all circumstances injustice. Even more important than a good law is a good judge.
She was well acquainted with the university. She had studied law there and after her studies she continued to work there at the newly established criminological institute (later renamed the Willem Pompe Institute, after its founder, with whom she later also received her doctorate with the thesis 'De criminaliteit van de vrouw'). Salient detail, considering her later career, is that one of her theses was "that the Law does not prohibit a woman from accepting an appointment as a judge.
Wise judgment begins with good listening.
Nationally and internationally, she enjoyed great prestige in child justice and child protection circles. She was rightly distinguished for all her work. In 1964 she was knighted in the order of the Dutch Lion, in 1977 she received the Wolfert van Borselen medal from the municipality of Rotterdam and in 1979 she received an honorary doctorate from Radboud University.
Memory of Han
Emeritus professor Constantijn Kelk has fond memories of Han Hudig. In an interview with him in the July 2021 Dutch Law Journal, he says:
What I remember about her above all is that she was an excellent listener. She was a magistrate who, by listening well, could quickly immerse herself in another person and then - without using many words - give a sharp and wise judgment. And wise judgment, of course, always begins with good listening. But she was also an intellectual, broadly interested in art, literature and science. And she could relate well, mind you. She was not a person who ever made a fuss. She was reasonableness itself.
She was a magistrate who, by listening well, could quickly immerse herself in another person and then - without using many words - give a sharp and wise judgment.