Wanted: professor of Lego

The University of Cambridge is planning on hiring, a fact that already sparks the interest of a lot of scientists around the globe. But wait until they hear what kind of vacancy the university has in mind: a professor of Lego. Yes, Lego, the little plastic blocks that hurt so much when you step on them.The University of Cambridge would receive 4 million pounds of donations from the Lego Foundation. The new ‘Professor of Lego’ will work in the Faculty of Education, and he or she will be director of the Research Centre on Play in Education, Development and Learning, which is supported with the money. The Lego Foundation is not the same as the Lego toy company. It is a foundation that aims “to make children’s lives better – and communities stronger – by making sure the fundamental value of play is understood, embraced and acted upon.”

Universities often work together with companies that donate money for professorships, so that their name is attached to a research department. In Tilburg, there are a lot of these constructions, called ‘bijzondere leerstoelen’, endowed chairs. For example, the St. Elisabeth hospital has one, but also PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Statistics Netherlands, and CZ health insurances. Attached to these endowed chairs are professorships.

The contract for these chairs reads: “<the establishing authority> establishes from an idealistic point of view an endowed chair in the <name of faculty> faculty of TiU, hereinafter referred to as the ‘faculty’.” and “the endowed chair offers added-value to the quality of education and research of TiU (optional: and is of special social significance).”

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