Semiha Denktaş appointed as UNIC’s new Alliance Coordinator

Prof.dr. Semiha Denktaş has been appointed as UNIC’s new Alliance Coordinator by the Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She will take from founding coordinator Prof.dr. Peter Scholten, who is stepping down after a transformative run steering UNIC from the kernel of an idea to a flourishing pan-European alliance since 2018. After a short transition process, Prof. Scholten will hand over the baton to Prof. Denktaş on August 28, 2024.

Professor Scholten will be stepping down after a transformative six-year run at the heart of UNIC, all the way from the alliance’s earliest concept meetings in 2018 and its founding in 2020 to its new phase in 2023. He was a key, pioneering force in forging UNIC’s identity, central to its emergence and journey towards building the European University of the future.

"My feelings are mixed – there is never a perfect moment to leave, but being in position where I can hand over the UNIC leadership is itself a big achievement,” says Professor Scholten. “UNIC is strong, stable, and future proof as a true partnership of students, teachers, and citizens. With Prof. Denktaş, the alliance is in the best hands possible."

Involved with UNIC from the start

Professor Denktaş is Professor of Psychology and Vice Dean of Research at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and will continue in these roles. 

She has been involved with UNIC from the start. She was the Chief Diversity Officer at Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Center until April 2024, where she worked closely with the UNIC team and led the European consortium IDEA-net, aiming to help set up diversity and inclusion programmes in other universities. 

"I have been a steadfast supporter of UNIC from day one. To me, it stands as one of the most pivotal projects for the forthcoming years in Europe", she says. "I am incredibly excited about the prospect of contributing to UNIC as alliance coordinator. Throughout my career, my approach has emphasized collaboration, co-creation and involving diverse voices to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of our initiatives. UNIC stands for everything I have dedicated my career to building, and the opportunity to be part of this journey is both inspiring and motivating."

UNIC is here to stay

Professor Scholten will shift focus to his work and research center on migration and diversity governance, and will work together with Professor Denktaş on a leadership transition process. "I remain fully committed to the UNIC dream. I am certain that UNIC is here to stay, and will become a central player in the future of our universities, our cities and the European Higher Education Area," Scholten says.

Prof. Dr. Ed Brinksma, President of the Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam, is very positive about this nomination: "As much as it is clear that UNIC leadership is undergoing a transition, I have full confidence that the quality of this transition is exceptionally good and the programme is maturing, with the best people from the organisation are being put in place. Therefore, UNIC's structure is rock solid."

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