Rik Van de Walle

rector candidate

I was born in 1970 and obtained the degree of Master of Science in Engineering Physics and Doctor of Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at Ghent University. After a visiting post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) I returned to Ghent, became a full-time assistant professor (‘docent’) in 2001 and set up the Multimedia Lab. This research group was one of the founding research groups of iMinds (since 2016 imec) and was renamed in 2016 as Internet and Data Lab (IDLab) after a merger with two other research groups (across departmental and even university boundaries). IDLab is a very large group since it encompasses about 300 members.   

With respect to research, I am interested in multimedia applications, systems and signals, data science and e-health/health care. I have taught courses in study programmes within the faculties of Engineering and Architecture, Sciences, and Medicine and Health Sciences.

Since 2012 I have been the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, and since 2014 I have been chair of the Department of Electronics and Information Systems. I am also an imec board member. 

Contrary to what you may think, I am not married to the job, but I am married to the far more interesting Brenda Delcloo. I am dad of Bram and Kim, step dad of Mauro and a Plan parent. In my youth I was a promising (or at least, that’s what I thought) tennis player. With respect to my current sport activities, I can best be described as a ‘passionate endurance athlete’, with one to two participations a year in large city marathons (PR: 3:11:38 – Amsterdam 2015).

Finally I was a passionate flutist for many years. I have the best memories of numerous concerts I played as a member of different orchestras and ensembles. Since a couple of years my musical ambitions have been restricted though: they don’t reach much further than attending a good concert from time to time. 

Any other free time I like to fill up with a good book. Fiction or non-fiction? I haven’t really got any preferences. When choosing a book I am mostly led by what friends and acquaintances recommend, or by chance meetings with books in shop windows or on bookshelves. 

My academic career and my personal trajectory clearly show that I like things to move forward. That is true – I don’t only want to dream, I also want to realise those dreams. The marathons I run are lessons in patience and focus. ‘When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time’ is what the Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie says, one of the greatest long distance runners of all times. He is right. You do not run against the other runners, you run with them. You can only reach the final goal when you are supported by many people, not only during the marathon but also in the period before. Because, don’t be mistaken: the famous runner’s high does exist, but it only comes after countless hours of preparation!

Mieke Van Herreweghe

vice-rector candidate

I was born in 1965. In 1987 I obtained a Master’s degree in Germanic languages at Ghent University and one year later a Master’s degree in Linguistics at University College Dublin (Ireland). After a PhD Fellowship from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), I obtained a PhD in Linguistics and Literature at Ghent University in 1996 with a dissertation titled: “Prelingually deaf pupils and Dutch: a syntactic study”. 

I never really let go of that topic. In the course of the years, first as a post-doctoral assistant in the English Department and then as a post-doctoral researcher funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), my research field slightly shifted, though, and I have focused more and more contrastive analyses of grammatical aspects of Flemish Sign Language (VGT or Vlaamse Gebarentaal) compared to Dutch. I am a Flemish Sign Language interpreter and was one of the founding members of the Flemish Sign Language Centre (VGTC or Vlaams GebarentaalCentrum), which has been recognised by the Flemish government as thé knowledge and expertise centre  with respect to VGT. 

Since 2012 I have been full professor in English linguistics. I have done and am doing research on the acquisition of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and on historical aspects of English, but the majority of my research is still on Flemish Sign Language. I very broadly look at the language from grammatical, lexicographical and sociolinguistic perspectives. 

One of the most important reasons for me to be a candidate is the fact that I am utterly convinced that Ghent University needs more women in managerial positions. A better gender balance – within Ghent University at all levels – will only make the university stronger. I was chair of the Study Programme Committee of Linguistics and Literature for four years and since last year I have been research director of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. When I look around me I see too few other women who want to map out the future of Ghent University and its diverse faculties. My candidacy is the logical consequence of that observation: I could either note that imbalance and complain about it, or I can try and do something about it myself. I am certain that Rik is the ideal ally to tackle those and other problems. We are both people who believe that actions speak louder than words. 
My own personal background has led me to believe that trust is of paramount importance. My father was blind. From my early childhood onwards it has been instilled in me that we have to trust each other blindly - literally. That is what I want to convey to Ghent University. The best way to receive trust is to give trust. My two eldest daughters (my husband and I have three daughters) are also students at Ghent University. It would be wonderful if at university they could also feel the same trust they feel at home. Together with all their fellow students and my colleagues.

Just like Rik, I was a keen athlete. I used to compete in both water skiing and badminton. I am a volunteer for Gymnastics club Athena. My biggest hobby is my family but I also like to spend some of my free time on cooking, reading or travelling.