How Fortuyn became ‘Professor Pim’

Imagine: the Erasmus building is very quiet. Professors should have a cup of coffee now. Everything is ready. The biscuits, jugs and chairs. Despite all the solemnity, this should have been a good time. Recognition and recognition. But there is hardly anyone to see.

Finally, after half an hour, a couple of professors in dresses trickle into the auditorium. They only shyly greet the bald man behind the podium. They are there out of a sense of duty, they would rather not talk to Professor Pim. After a punitive farewell speech called ‘Your job is at stake. Beyond the consultative economy ‘, Fortuyn throws his dress off theatrically and runs angrily away from the stage.

Friday 1 September 1995 was Fortuyn’s last working day in EUR. The end of a period that was important to the politician.

Also read the portrait interview published in Quod Novum, the European Championship’s predecessor in 1988:

Pim Fortuyn 1988 Levien Willemse

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Professor by special appointment

In 1991, sociologist Pim Fortuyn was appointed professor by special appointment of employment relations at the Faculty of Social Sciences (now ESSB). He received his doctorate in Groningen and worked there as an associate professor. Rotterdam has been his hometown for several years, where he has contact with many entrepreneurs and professors.

He has seen a professorship in Rotterdam for years. And when it comes down to it, he will be the first to occupy the so-called Albeda chair, a position that will primarily lead to police-oriented investigations. This chair was developed by the Center for Employment Relations for Government Employees (CAOP), a foundation affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior. His appointment is for one day only a week.

Difficult relationship

Fortuyn has a difficult relationship with science. In 2012, Emeritus Professor of Sociology Han Leune said that he, along with other colleagues on the board of trustees who appointed him, had long doubted Fortuyn’s suitability. Apart from his then unpublished PhD research, he has no notable scientific publications to his name.

According to the historian Clemens van Herwaarden, who received his doctorate at EUR with his thesis Love for a leader. Pim Fortuyn’s charismatic leadership Fortuyn’s dissertation was seen as a thorough work. In it he gives a well-substantiated account of how the Germans introduced certain elements of the welfare state during World War II. So he knew how to do research, and so did his colleagues at the time. ”

The current principal of Nyenrode Koen Becking is the only one who has received his PhD. from the group of external PhD students who started at Fortuyn. He did research at CAOP in the 1990s. When he was 22, he visited Fortuyn several times a month, where he was always warmly welcomed along with the other PhD students. Becking believed that Fortuyn was an original thinker, but also knew that he did not need to be with his supervisor for everything: “He was not very good at statistics. I would rather go to another supervisor for that. ”

Despite his later reputation as a professor of the people, Fortuyn also likes elite affairs. This contradiction becomes clear, for example, if one looks at his idea of ​​what a university should be. In a speech in 1995, he argued that only high-flying and strictly selected students should be allowed at the university. Only in this way can the quality of science and education be guaranteed in the long run.


Fortuyn’s heart was not with science either, according to Emeritus Professor of Public Administration Roel in ‘t Veld. “He was mainly interested in his popular books. And everyone was jealous of his sales figures. The products that came out of his employment therefore need to be interpreted a little more broadly. More like social value, he added. “

To convince the members of the board of trustees, Fortuyn promises that he will attract and mentor many PhD students and research assistants. That promise convinces the majority of professors. But Fortuyn does not meet him.

At university, his role is not great. According to Leune, he did not supervise PhD students at the university and did not have a fixed lecture program. He also does not publish in scientific journals during the four years. According to In ‘t Veld, Fortuyn was therefore not reappointed after four years. He explains: “At the particular insistence of me, among others, he was allowed to stay, provided he wanted to work on one release a year. But he thought it was an insult. “That’s why Fortuyn angrily runs away from his farewell speech.

Professor Pimo

Erasmus University is important to Fortuyn for another reason. This is the first time he can call himself a professor. A role he likes to play. According to Leune, he looks up photographers everywhere to photograph him at all kinds of ceremonies. Clemens van Herwaarden also remembers how Fortuyn played the role. His father, Professor Emeritus of Medieval and Renaissance Cultural History Jan van Herwaarden, gave his inaugural lecture. Clemens van Herwaarden laughs: “Fortuyn was present, and the section in the guestbook was far too small for his large signature. It was, of course, beautifully symbolic. Hundreds of people had already signed the box.”

Fortuyn likes to give lectures and debate when he gets the chance. Jan van Herwaarden remembers it well. “In the 1990s, Pim was sitting in our hallway next to the room of my good friend, then professor of economic history Huib Vleesenbeek. Fortuyn was a fascinating guy to talk to. His standard sentence was always: ‘You can say that, Mr Van Herwaarden, but …’ and then the contradiction began. “

Fortuyn Farewell lecture Sept 1995_ Levien Willemse

Fortuyn runs away furiously after his farewell speech in the auditorium.

Picture of:
Levien Willemse

Burden of proof

According to his son, Fortuyn expert Clemens, the label professor is part of the brand that Pim Fortuyn later becomes. ‘It gives him the stature that made people think he was special. Readers of his books and later voters saw such a learned person who nevertheless spoke on their behalf. Who was on their side. His books, for example, were bought by people who would otherwise never read. His big opponent Ad Melkert, for example, jokingly said about his latest book that the fish would be packed in it tomorrow. While people thought it was a special book, Melkert thought it did not have a long shelf life.

Personally, too, it must have meant something to Fortuyn that he was allowed to call himself a professor. Clemens van Herwaarden explains: “In his home it was either on holiday or to pay for Pim’s studies. The Fortuyn family often did not go on vacation. That these sacrifices were made for him brought a burden of proof. So the confirmation he received when he became a professor must have been important to him. “

Inspiration Pim

According to Clemens van Herwaarden, what Fortuyn mainly developed during his time at EUR is its unique character. “Then he started writing and talking about topics that were first seen as major social problems in the next decade. He was unique in that. Think of his criticism of Kok’s purple cabinets, but also the warning about the danger of Muslim extremism long before the attack. on the Twin Towers.You can think what you want about it, but he was the first to raise it for large sections of the population during the national elections.During his time at Erasmus University he had the time and position to think about these themes for “The first time. You see that too. Then he started his columns for Elsevier, invested in his relations in Rotterdam and spoke in small halls.”

Koen Becking, who started her PhD at Fortuyn, eventually obtained her PhD in 2002 at Utrecht University. During his defense, he received a note of congratulations from Fortuyn. It was a day after Fortuyn died. The mail had been delayed. Becking will not soon forget his mentor. “After all, he was an inspiring teacher.”

Fortuyn graduated in sociology from VU in 1972. In the mid-1970s, he obtained his doctorate in Groningen, where he became a teacher of Marxist sociology.

The young sociologist first sympathized with the Communist Party CPN, but was a member of the PvdA for the longest time in his career, namely from 1972 to 1989. After that, he was a member of the VVD for some years.

In 1988, he moved to Rotterdam and became the director of the company behind the student card. From 1991 to 1995, he worked one day a week at Erasmus University as a professor by special appointment in the Albeda chair.

From 1992 until his death in 2002, he worked as a political publicist. Fortuyn speaks in halls and receptions and writes books such as To the people of Holland (1992), in which he calls for a revolt against the political system, Against the Islamization of the Netherlands (1997), where he turns to the multicultural society and The ruins of eight years of Purple (2002), in which he strongly criticizes the privatization of state institutions and proposes an alternative recovery program.

He was active in national and municipal politics from 20 August 2001 until his death on 6 May 2002. He is the list leader for Leefbaar Rotterdam, Leefbaar Nederland and Pim Fortuyn List.

On May 6, 2002, he was shot and killed by Volkert van de Graaf in the Media Park in Hilversum.

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