René Kwant receives royal decoration

For his insight and commitment in the broad application of his knowledge of biology and Utrecht University, as well as his active role in his residential neighborhood, René Kwant was awarded royal honours on 26 April 2022. He has been decorated as Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau. 

René Kwant was appointed botanical analyst in Prof. Werger's research group in 1982. He soon became the sparring partner of all analysts and joined the faculty council. His decisive approach was visible to many and he developed into head of operations of the Went building, where the Biology faculty was then housed, and some years later even became the ad interim director of the Biology faculty.

Taken bij de Universiteit Utrecht

René has carried out a large number of tasks during his career at Utrecht University. A number of them stand out in size or impact. Here are a few.

  • The direct and indirect consequences of a major fire in the Hugo R. Kruyt building were managed and resolved by René. The damage to many facilities, including the electron microscopes, was enormous. Remarkably, René managed to restart most research activities within two weeks.
  • René co-managed a major reorganisation within the Biology Department. More than 30 people had to be made redundant, but thanks to René's enormous efforts and creativity, almost all of these people were reinstated within a year.
  • Ad-interim, René was in charge of the housing of the Science Faculty and the Botanical Gardens of Utrecht.
  • Over the past years, René has actively contributed to a wide range of regional and national initiatives in the field of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, including 'Food-Print Utrecht Region', 'Utrecht Food Freedom', 'Sustainable Food Initiative', the regional deal Foodvalley, FoodSwitchNL and the citizen consultation G1000 Agriculture. In this role, he has always strived to connect stakeholders. René tirelessly strived for a result desired by all, but never put himself first.    

Someone who comes up with unorthodox creative ideas and solutions for all sorts of issues.

Rens Voesenek, head of the Biology Department, says about René: "He is a very talented and special person with a strong analytical background. I know René as someone who comes up with unorthodox creative ideas and solutions for all sorts of issues. He is also solution-oriented: he picks things up in order to solve them. René is decisive and can present ideas convincingly in various ways, without becoming pushy. René has applied this in an exceptionally unique and long-lasting way in his work at Utrecht University, but also in the various unpaid additional positions he has held. His performance is unique and exceptional and covers much more than might be expected."

On behalf of the Faculty of Science and in particular the Biology Department, we warmly congratulate René with this award.