Over the last seven years, mayor Eberhard van der Laan proved time and again to be of immense importance to the city of Amsterdam and to its knowledge institutes. Throughout this period, he displayed a strong commitment, exceptional administrative skills and passionate involvement. For this we are extremely grateful to him.
For the University of Amsterdam in particular, Van der Laan played a visible and valuable role during a tumultuous period in early 2015. While still recovering from an eye operation, he took the lead in an attempt to mediate during the Bungenhuis occupation. He was again asked by students to mediate during the first night of the Maagdenhuis occupation, where he engaged with protesting students until the early hours of the morning. His involvement reflected his strong and continuous desire to find solutions to difficult problems.
Less visible but no less important was his strong involvement in the Amsterdam Economic Board, in which he brought together local government, knowledge institutes and the business sector. The success of this initiative would have been unthinkable without his direct and personal participation.
During his official trips abroad, Van der Laan was an important ambassador for the Amsterdam knowledge institutes by continually stressing the city’s strengths as a knowledge hub within the scientific world and by visiting the universities’ alumni networks.
We will miss Eberhard van der Laan dearly – as mayor, as a colleague and as a fellow citizen of Amsterdam. His aim of ensuring Amsterdam stays a thriving city with a close-knit community is one we will continue to strive for.
Our condolences go out to his wife, children, family and friends during this difficult time.