Former dean of Humanities suspected of fraud
Dark times for Tilburg University, as allegations of fraud are made about Arie de Ruijter, former dean and professor at Tilburg University.
Between 2007 and 2015, the time of his alleged fraud, De Ruijter was dean of the school of Humanities and supervisor of many dissertations. Because of the large amount of workload, De Ruijter was granted a budget to pay for external help with the dissertations. Rather, this budget seems to have gone to a beauty salon in hands of his niece’s partner. When suspicions were raised within the faculty, De Ruijter took on a second external company: Thoben Research & Consult, his nephew’s company.
On Saturday February 18th, Dutch radioprogramme Argos interviewed both De Ruijter and executive board president Koen Becking, who remains reluctant to confirm that the allegations are indeed about De Ruijter. Here, De Ruijter regards the involvement of his family completely irrelevant. “What matters is their expertise. That expertise has been proven by the success of the dissertations that were supervised.” Luckily for the PhD-students, Koen Becking reports that the scientific validity of the dissertations has indeed proven to be unharmed by the accusations.
However, more peculiarities arise in the course of the interview. It turns out that one of the reasons De Ruijter needed budget for external help in the first place, might have been the fact that he had two other jobs next to his position as a dean at Tilburg University. In 2013, De Ruijter accepted a fulltime job at the Dutch NGO NCDO, where he received over 168.000, which exceeds the maximum salary. In addition to that, he filled a position at the Police Academy and did some consultancy projects on the side. Though employees are officially obliged to report such additional positions to the university, Becking pleads to never have agreed to the extra positions: “In my period as president of the executive board, I have not granted permission for that. We don’t allow for people to have double or even triple the workload they’re supposed to have.”
De Ruijter himself doesn’t seem to see the harm in his actions. He feels he deserves more credit for working 168-hour weeks and earning the university tons of money, since it received 90.000 euros per dissertation. The fact that a third of this money was paid to the two external companies seems completely justified to De Ruijter, since the beauty salon has been of great help in finding literature.
His self-acclaimed hard work did not go unnoticed by his former colleagues. “I know De Ruijter as very active and qualified.” Professor Paul van Sesten from the faculty of Law says. “He has terrific governing abilities. The whole incident is tragic for him as well as the university. The way I see it, there are only victims in this situation, and above all, great questions. How could something like this have happened?”
Professor in sociology Peter Achterberg regrets the situation as well. “It is deeply regretful to see something we have worked so hard to build up be torn down by one negatively depicted event about a possibly fraudulent professor.”
One of De Ruijters former PhDs has never noticed anything of possibly fraudulent events. “I received good help. De Ruijter himself supervised my dissertation, without making use of any external help.”