07 Nov 2019   |   Network Updates   |   Update from KU Leuven
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Marianne Thyssen succeeds Herman Daems as chair of the KU Leuven Board of Governors


As of 1 June 2020, Marianne Thyssen will take Professor Herman Daems’s place as chair of the KU Leuven Board of Governors. Marianne Thyssen is currently the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility. Her term will soon come to an end, after which she will take over from Professor Daems, who has been chair since 1 January 2012.

Marianne Thyssen obtained her master's degree in law at KU Leuven in 1979. She began her career as an assistant at the Faculty of Law. After that, she worked as a legal adviser for the research department of UNIZO, where she later became the director and, in 1991, acting secretary-general. From 1986 to 1988, she was a legal assistant in the office of State Secretary for Health Wivina Demeester. From 2008 until 2010, she was chair of CD&V, after having worked as a municipal councillor and alderman for Oud-Heverlee for a couple of years.

In 1991, Thyssen also began her European career as a member of the European Parliament. A few years later, in 1999, she became the leader of the European People's Party's (EPP) Belgian delegation in the European Parliament, until 2014. From 2004 until 2009, she was also First Vice-Chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament. In 2014, Thyssen was appointed European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, as well as deputy chair of the European People’s Party. Her five-year team for these two functions will soon come to an end.

On 1 June 2020, Marianne Thyssen will succeed Professor Herman Daems, who became chair on 1 January 2012 after having built up an impressive career, both in academia and the industry. For nearly 30 years, he was a professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business, specialising in strategic management. He also taught at various foreign universities and business schools, including Harvard Business School.

Furthermore, Herman Daems is chair of the Board of Directors of BNP Paribas Fortis, and director of numerous companies and non-profit organisations in Belgium and abroad. Finally, he was Head of Cabinet to the Flemish Minister for Economy and Media from 1995 to 1998.

KU Leuven Board of Governors

The Board of Governors is the umbrella management body of KU Leuven. It determines the global strategy and approves partial strategies, whose implementation it stimulates and evaluates. The 25 members with voting rights monitor the financial equilibrium of KU Leuven, and act as a central contact point for policy matters. The members of the Board include the Rector, the three Vice Rectors of the Groups, the Managing Director, two student-governors, and 18 external managers.

“I am grateful to KU Leuven for putting its trust in me,” says Marianne Thyssen. “Becoming chair of the KU Leuven Board of Governors allows me to make my career come full circle: it will end where it began, and I get the opportunity to do something for my Alma Mater.”

“Ms Thyssen brings a lot of relevant management experience to the table, which will come in handy in her new role as chair. I look forward to working with her,” says Rector Luc Sels. “I also want to sincerely thank current chair Herman Daems for the past seven years. As chair of the Board of Governors, he left his mark on the strategy of the university, especially in terms of management and innovation. His vast management experience in numerous sectors and organisations has been extremely valuable to KU Leuven.”

This communication was first published 7 November 2019 by KU Leuven.

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