Alumnus of the Year
At Utrecht University, we believe that alumni are an important and integral part of the academic community. Together with students, scientists, alumni, social partners, government and business, we seek solutions to the challenges of our time. The Alumnus of the Year is someone who stands out for commitment to social issues, who dares to step outside the box and who knows how to inspire our students with extraordinary achievements in the field. Previous Alumni of the Year are: Marjan Minnesma, Feike Sijbesma, Cathelijne Broers, Jan Beuving, Rutger Bregman and Marion Koopmans.
2022: Maria Eva González Pérez
We are proud to present to you our Alumnus of the Year 2022: Attorney Eva González Pérez. The festive announcement and award ceremony took place on Monday, March 27, 2023 in the Cathedral Church, during the celebration of the 387th Dies Natalis, the anniversary of the University.
Maria Eva González Pérez graduated from Utrecht University in 2000, Dutch law. She has since been working as a lawyer in the district of 's-Hertogenbosch. In 2007 she started her own office in Eindhoven as an independent lawyer with two partners. In recent years, she has focused on the so-called childcare benefit scandal in which she became involved as early as 2014. In this she represents 40 parents whose child allowance was stopped and reclaimed by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
Childcare benefit scandal
It started with an email she sent to Member of Parliament Pieter Omtzigt in 2017. Eva assists a number of clients who are stuck in their problems with the tax authorities. Problems that concern benefits that were allegedly obtained unlawfully. She won a procedure with the Council of State but the tax authorities refuse to help the parents who were affected. With the mail to Omtzigt she brings to light one of the biggest administrative and political errors of our country: the Childcare benefit scandal. We now know that many hundreds of families are victims.
The Faculty of Law Economy Administration and Organization nominated Eva González Pérez for the Alumnus of the Year award because, driven by a great sense of justice, she brings structural problems to attention. In 2022, she already received the Coornhert Prize together with Pieter Omtzigt.
The jury on Eva González Pérez: 'We admire Eva for the important role she plays in the benefit scandal. She got the ball rolling. She put the abuses at the Tax Administration on the political and social agenda. With boundless dedication and ambition, she assists dozens of duped parents in their procedures. Her tenacious action and commitment to the victims of the affair make her an inspiration to all students and alumni.
The jury for the selection consisted of alumni Marjan Minnesma (chairman, director Urgenda), José van Dijck (university professor, board member Utrechts Universiteitsfonds), Anneloes Krul (student-assessor Executive Board), Floris de Gelder (independent advisor) and Maurice Unck (general director/CEO RET, vice chairman Utrechts Universiteitsfonds).
The prize associated with the Alumnus of the Year nomination is a work of art by Utrecht-based visual artist and photographer Nissim Men. The winner gets to choose which spot to place the artwork and Eva González Pérez chooses the Dom Tower. This prize is an initiative of the Utrecht University Fund.