To all P&H members

 

Dear members of P&H,

 

This letter brings you sad news regarding the future of the Research Institute for Psychology & Health. As you all know, there has been some debate in the Netherlands about the role of Research Institutes in the training of Ph.D. students next to the role of the Graduate Schools. In the past year, I have regularly informed you about these debates. I will not reiterate my comments on this discussion and how it has affected our thinking about P&Hs future, and I will also spare you the exact details of the developments in the past months. There were both hopeful moments (e.g., the very positive report on the role of Research Institutes by the Commissie Van der Vliet) and moments of serious doubt (e.g., when the boards of Dutch universities did not follow up on the report of the Commissie Van der Vliet in terms of financial support). In response to these developments, the board of P&H has decided to install a special committee with the task of exploring several possibilities of continued activity of P&H. Following the advice by this special committee, in a recent meeting the board of P&H decided to continue in a new arrangement that would require higher financial contributions by the constituting partners. However, the board also specified two conditions that were considered essential to make such continued activity possible. The first condition was that the vacant position of the current scientific director by January 2011 would be fulfilled by a person dedicated to the activities of P&H; the second condition specified that sufficient universities or other bodies participating in P&H would be willing to pay a higher fee to pay for expenses associated with coordination and administrative support. So far, it appeared that there was a serious chance of continuation in 2011.

 

Only a few weeks ago, it became clear that there would be no successor for the vacant job of scientific director, making it virtually impossible to guide the new and very challenging developments that are necessary for continued activity of the institute. This state of affairs implies that as of January 2011 P&H will cease to exist.

 

This is very sad news in a number of ways and all relating to the fact that P&H has been a very successful institute. First, throughout its history of 15 years, P&H has been successful in organizing all kinds of activities (keynote lectures, conferences, research seminars, and regular courses) and attracting scholars who are experts in the field from all over the globe. In many ways, P&H has been outperforming other research institutes for its number of activities and the quality of these activities, which have been evaluated as outstanding. We will document what we have been doing in all these years as a way of remembering the good things that were. Second, P&H has been very successful in attracting and educating a large number of Ph.D. students who have evaluated very positively the way they were trained and supported by activities of the institute. Starting with about 20 Ph.D. students in 1994, the research school is now flourishing as ever with about 85 Ph.D. students. And third, P&H has been a platform for discussion between senior researchers a place to meet and exchange ideas about research. All of this will disappear in a few months. Of course, there will be other opportunities to meet and maybe there will be new attempts to organize the research field of psychology and health in the Netherlands and Belgium. That said, we must also acknowledge that especially for young researchers who are doing their Ph.D. research, it will become more difficult to find ways to inform themselves about the latest developments in the field and to attend specialized research seminars that inform them about the state of affairs in this research area.

 

Where do we go from here? In the upcoming months, we will work hard to organize all planned activities. At the same time, we will start with dismantling the institute. As, very unfortunately, Lizet Hoekert and Henrit van Middendorp will leave P&H during the summer, we will need support from others. Once we know more about that, it will be announced to you by e-mail. As stated before, it is also our intention to document all P&H activities in a P&H testament that may be helpful in guiding new activities that will (perhaps) be organized by the Graduate School who will be responsible for Ph.D. training. For Ph.D. students who are now members of P&H, all training activities until December 2010 will be documented in a certificate, which will be handed to them by the end of 2010. From then on, they will need to consult the Graduate School of their respective universities to get information on the specific training requirements for graduation.

 

The past fifteen years have been wonderful, but it appears that also good things can end.

 

With kind regards

Also on behalf of the Board of P&H

 

 

Denise de Ridder

Scientific Director P&H