Alumnus of the Year
With its Alumnus of the Year award, Utrecht University (UU) highlights the fact that alumni are an important and integral part of the academic community, since it seeks solutions to today’s challenges together with its students, academics, alumni and social partners, as well as with government and the business world. An Alumnus of the Year is someone bringing progress to their area of expertise, daring to break new ground, someone concerned and engaged with society and a source of inspiration for the students of today. Previous winners of the Alumnus of the Year award were Marjan Minnesma, Feike Sijbesma, Cathelijne Broers, Jan Beuving and Rutger Bregman.
2021: Marion Koopmans
Professor Marion Koopmans has been named Alumnus of the Year 2021 of Utrecht University. She received the award on Friday 25 March in the Dom Church, during the celebration of the 386th Dies Natalis, the anniversary of the university.
Marion Koopmans (65) studied veterinary medicine in Utrecht and completed her studies in 1976. She is the world's leading researcher on the spread of viruses. She is Professor of Virology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and head of the Viroscience department at the Erasmus Medical Centre. As a member of the Dutch Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and of the World Health Organisation (WHO) research team, she plays a crucial role in combating the coronapandemic.
Impact and public debate
She is characterised by her enormous drive to ensure that research results are applied. As a member of the OMT, Marion Koopmans expressly participates in the public debate. In one fell swoop she became a Dutch celebrity. She directly experienced the friction that exists between politics and science. Despite the intimidation she faced, she consciously continued to fulfil this role and entered into dialogue with unflagging energy, also on social media and through frequent appearances on television and radio programmes. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine nominated Marion Koopmans for the Alumnus of the Year award. This is very special in this year when the Veterinary Medicine programme is celebrating its 200th anniversary.
The prize for the Alumnus of the Year is a work of art by Utrecht artist Nissim Men depicting a place in the city of Utrecht that is important to the winner. Marion Koopmans chose the Anatomy Building and the Horse Cathedral. Both buildings belong to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, at the time when Marion studied there. The prize is an initiative of the Utrecht University Fund.
The jury consists of Harald Miedema MBA (jury chairman, alumnus and vice-chairman of the board of the Utrecht University Fund), José van Dijck (alumnus, university professor and member of the board of the Utrecht University Fund), Merel Dekker (alumnus and student-assessor Executive Board), Monique Mourits (alumnus and director of Communication & Marketing), Floris de Gelder (alumnus) and James Kennedy (university professor).