In the past years many things have changed at the FMF. How business was run and what kind of atmosphere there used to be can be read in the articles by the previous members. A few can be found below.
Forty years after I studied physics in Groningen, I was appointed as director of the School of Science and Technology at the FMNS. This includes the programmes in the fields of physics, astronomy and mathematics. I have worked elsewhere for over 25 years and it appears a lot has changed in the meanwhile. The organization and management of the faculty is different than before, and I notice that the role of the student and the student associations has intensified greatly. In the academic year "67/"68 I was treasurer on the board of the FMF. That board consisted of four men and except for the audit committee, there were no members who performed tasks. The activities were also limited: a series of lectures, an introduction day, a few company visits, a two-day excursion in the Netherlands and once every few years a foreign excursion. Student involvement in the governance of the (sub)department at that time was nil, evaluations of education did not occur either. Only one teacher asked what we thought of his lectures. However, the staff was involved in the FMF, they participated in the excursions and took part in the introduction day. After the democratization movement in 1968 that changed and students and postgraduates took place on (sub)faculty boards. It took some getting used to the changed circumstances (for all parties).
I remember well how the board of 1967 came into being. Usually a new board consisted of acquaintances from the old board who were simply appointed without opposition candidates or elections. I had been appointed that year as a candidate by the old board, but some friends thought the system did not work properly and opposed as candidates for the other functions. It was a heated debate at which finally both candidates appointed by the old board and some of the alternative candidate were chosen. For the new board this was not a problem at all, we could get along just fine. For example, we did not drink coffee or tea at our board meetings, but wine. The first time when these meetings were in the evening, that worked just fine, but when we began to organize the excursion we met in the morning, with all its consequences. We just met in members' homes, a separate room for the FMF was not there at that time. Perio*diek magazines and almanacs did not exist yet. A couple of times per year announcements were mimeographed and distributed via the post.
The board itself organized the national excursions in those years. Standard here was the visit to an alcoholic beverage producing organization. Why we agreed to visit Heineken in the morning is beyond me. I remember that we were sitting in the Sun pretty drunk on a square in Amsterdam and during the presentations in the afternoon many of us fell asleep. I found after some searching in my attic a portion of an accounting booklet from 1967. I do not know the current finances of the FMF, but the magnitude is certainly different. For the introduction day, which incidentally was organized in February, an amount of f 36.81 (guilders) was spent (for the youngsters: 1 guilder is approximately € 0.45), consisting of f 3.45 for stencils, f 7.00 for coffee, f 34.01 for drinks and an amount of f 2.35 for which I can not identify the destination. The drinks at the board transfer cost f 39.90. Even then we had clear priorities. When searching the attic I also ran into old dictates. In those days you hardly had printed lecture notes. The teacher dictated or wrote the text on the board and we were able to make notes. The lecture notes must have been mine, because I recognized the handwriting. For the rest, I understood nothing of the content. So you see how quickly knowledge disappears. From my situation you can actually see that without this knowledge you can still get a nice job. I have gratefully made use of the general learned skills and problem solving skills. So I could still get a good job with the FMNS.
Henk Hanson - Directeur van het opleidingsinstituut Natuurwetenschappen en Technologie
It took me a while to complete my education, but on the other hand I could now already enjoy my pension at my 58th life year. A short career you could say. Just when I promoted at age 30 and started a job at Philips Telecommunications Industry, I could see how younger technicians think about older department chiefs - that would not happen to me. I still eagerly as a professor at TU Delft multimedia communication researched 4th generation mobile communication with younger people, but then I thought - in this area - the technique is beyond the needs of humanity. Time to stop - or do something else. Nowadays, communication is very easy and fast. In my student days it was different. Especially when it came to communication with foreign countries, in our case in particular with scientific institutions in the (former) Soviet Union. Yet, it succeeded to successfully organize an excursion to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Moscow and Yerevan in Armenia). There was some patience, perseverance and support required of our professors (especially Prof. de Waard was a great support).
Eventually, I was an active member of the FMF for three years. First, as a vice chairman in 1969-1970. This was quite a good system to learn the tricks of the trade (nowadays, this is not the system anymore - ed.). The second year as the chairman of 1970-1971. In that year I also made a preparatory trip to Moscow (see the picture of the Academy of Sciences), Yerevan and Tbilisi. From 1971-1972 the former board became the Russia committee. In the end, in May 1972, we made a successful, fun and educational excursion with 37 students and 3 members of staff.
Those were different times, but some things still remain the same. I still see a lot of commitment from students. Abroad, one remains amazed that study excursions are not organized from above (staff members, etc.). I strongly feel that students now proceed by far more professional means to organize such a trip. We were still working with stencils. In my room I had obviously no monitor, but I did have a blackboard (see photo). Now, with the Internet, email and mobile communications, it is all a lot more modern. And it is not expected of the current student that he takes an easy eight years to get his diploma...
In 1992 I started studying Mathematics and after a quiet first year, in which I explored the student life and found my way to the former IWI, I rolled into the student board life. First, the introduction committee, but that year was quickly followed by work in the betastuf (creating a booklet called the betawijzer) and at the FMF (the almanac committee). In my third year I was asked by the M&CS (Mathematics and Computing Science) betastuf club to present myself, on behalf of Mathematics and Computer Science, to take place in the FMF board. The two former boards had a physicist as chairman, and the last board was "only" represented in M&CS by the commissioner of companies. That was about to change and so I was as somewhat experienced board member, pushed forward to increase the influence of the IWI students. President, I was not, because there was already an experienced fifth-year Physics student approached and the old board considered him a more suitable candidate. However, the role of vice chairman was enough for me, and I felt fine since two fellow M&SC students filled the role of treasurer and commissioner of companies, our studies were in my view, sufficiently represented in the FMF board. I should have known better.
As for me, the most I remember of the board year 1994-1995 is the impending demerger of Mathematics and Computer Science of the FMF. Led by some of my betastuf colleagues, some of whom were also very good friends, it was actively considered, discussed and lobbied for a possible separate study association for M&CS students. Since it was found that the FMF was very much focused on Physics and its little sibling Astronomy. As FMF board member on one side and mathematics betastuffer on the other hand, I have regularly played the mediating role between the two sides. On the board (with Arjen, Michael, Robbert and Sacha as a very pleasant and harmonious group) I defended the M&CS students and my betastuf friends at the FMF. Something I still benefit from in my current job, as I can mediate and defend opposing viewpoints, which in my profession is certainly an important skill.
Ultimately, the demerger was averted and there are two committees established Huygens (P&A – Physics and Astronomy) and Axioma (M&CS), which were focused on activities specific to those studies. However, this was still preceded by a members meeting (ALV) where the tension rose so high that the chairman at one point got up, walked to the door and fainted. I think I've been the only vice chairman in the history of the FMF, who was forced to take over from the chairman during a members meeting.
Other FMF memories I have include of course the "Old room," with its fire unsafe walkway, the anniversary where we presented Theo Jurriens as the second honorary member, the hitch hiking contest to Prague (the fastest arrived after 16 hours, flatmate Laurens and I after 41 hours) and the first alphabet gala, where I helped some FMF men get a date with a lady of Roman Languages and Cultures through my connections in Selwerd. Not leaving myself out of course.
But the best was the EAST (East Asia Study Trip), the study trip to Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Especially the trip to Taipei was exciting, as the day before we were to leave the capital again, there occurred the first democratic presidential elections. China did not like that, the warships patrolled the Taiwan Strait at the time of our presence. The chairman of the EAST, Kristian Helmholt had done an interview before the trip with a local newspaper, if he was not scared to travel to a dangerous situation. "Well, as long as no bomb falls on my suitcase, it will all be OK" was his legendary response. In Taipei we saw a lot about the presidential elections, but nothing of any threat. After my board year I continued to crash myself in the student board life. Not as much within the FMF, but through betastuf and ultimately the Student Party Groningen (then the only University Group, which has also split again ;-)). The introduction was a recurring phenomenon, also writing a murder mystery / puzzle for the KEI-week. Prioritizing those activities higher than my study (and a lack of discipline) has ultimately ensured that after more than six years, I still was not far enough with my studies. I then decided to quit. In the present, I would probably have finished the bachelor (I was about that far with study points), but we did not have that system yet. Later, I never had the urge or the necessity to do so.
Fortunately, at that time ICT was still booming business (Millennium Bug and introducing Euro), so I only had to send my resume to an IT company, do some sort of IQ test and explain what I had done in college instead of studying. I was immediately accepted and am still working in ICT, now as Agile / Scrum coach at Quintor and at the time of writing my skills are being used at the Central Judicial Collection Agency.
Jan Willem Omlo
In my second year, I had the naive plan to bring the FMF and T.F.V. 'Prof. Francken' closer to one another by taking place in the excursion committee. One of my college friends, Gerbrand Krol, would do the same at the other association and so we would encourage cooperation between these associations. That is not what happened: The almanac committee turned out to be desperately looking for members and I had joined them. Particularly exciting, I had never done committee work before. And then, immediately, working through the nights in that remote Old Room (`OK' for insiders) behind the library of the WSN building. This Old Room still occasionally pops up in my dreams. A year later I was then, after doing some more committees, asked to take place in the board of the FMF. Immediately I was enormously excited! Together with Kees Hink, Tulay Durdabak and Jorrit Poelen we then tried to write a policy of the board, which turned out not to be easy. However, that did not spoil the fun and with great courage enthusiasm we started.
One of the first priorities of any board is to contact their members. To improve this contact, the so-called newsletter was completely overhauled. The newsletter, as you may know, was a letter containing information that was sent to all members at regular times. We decided to replace a this newsletter by a leaflet. Kees came up with the wonderful idea to give this leaflet the size of a newspaper (I still see before me how Kees explained the folding of the newspaper with his big hands) and named it the Periodiek (Dutch for: on a regular basis recurring). Even including the star. The newspaper format of the Perio*diek however, was short-lived.
Another way to make contact with members, and most importantly how to get the members to make contact with each other is to organize get-togethers. Chaplin's Pub at the Gedempte Zuiderdiep proved to be a wonderful location to come together. In this time of a well functioning drink it may seem trivial, but at that time we were very happy to see that there was enthusiasm for FMF get-togethers.
Throughout my board year, I regularly searched in the archives of the FMF. Especially the oldest parts of this archive I found to be particularly fascinating. I thought it was impressive, time and time again, how many people have put effort in our association and how much has been done through the years. This impression was reinforced by the many stories going around during the FMF anniversary reunion of 2004. The continuity and propellant power that stand at the basis of this, makes me optimistic for the future; may the future of the FMF, all developments in the field of education and research in spite, be beautiful!
Jan Anton Koster
My board career began when I was asked to apply for a position in the board of the FMF, sometime in the Summer of 1999 as a freshman. I had never thought about it, but loved organizing and without much hesitation I therefore decided to make use of the offer. When the old board asked me what function I would like to have, I said that I would want to be chairman. Lack of aspiration from me could, even then, not be denied. However, the old board decided otherwise, and saw in me more suitable as a commissioner of companies. I myself did not see this for me, but I must say that our predecessors still had certainly some vision, given my current job at Bain, an international strategy consultant.
That was seven years ago, apparently a short time. Thinking back, however I believe still a lot has changed since then. For example, I was the first of my board to purchase a mobile phone. It needs little argument that this device has certainly changed our lives and even the life as a board member. Internet already existed and was in university life already quite established, but I downloaded my email at home still using a 28K8 modem. So only suitable for text. I remember that at one point ath the members meeting a lively discussion exploded, whether or not our invitations to meetings had necessarily to be sent by post or that the statutes could be interpreted that an email would suffice. Those years, within the association, a lot of things have changed. In the years around my board year, a considerable professionalism was made, not least driven by a huge amount of sponsorship money that became available. It was the time of the "Internet boom", and sponsorship money was available on our own notice by a figure of speech. All sizes and sorts of IT companies were queuing. I've even refused an ad, otherwise there would be too many ads in the Perio*diek!
Bringing in ads was - I must admit - very nice. One company visit I remember very well. Together with Niels Maneschijn (the chairman), I went out into the provinces, neatly in two-piece suit for an undisclosed business. We had already figured out a nice discount strategy that seemed to work fantastic. When the person in question - at the supreme moment - was in serious doubt to what she would buy, we proposed that if they would take one more additional ad they could get as much as 5% extra discount on the whole package. She immediately agreed! The moment of closing of the elevator doors is still vivid in my mind: in the reflective elevator doors we saw each other's mouth corners slowly pulling up, erasing the perfect poker faces that we had managed to keep up during the whole conversation. Looking back, my board year in the FMF has been a fantastic time. We had fun in my board and I've learned a lot. Business visits, meetings, managing committees, problem solving among members, contacts with other boards - all experiences that add a great deal to your student life and also constitute a valuable basis for your work, no matter what job you get in the end. But the main thing I got out of my time at the FMF is a very nice group of friends. Many people I see regularly, and every year we go away for the weekend with a group of about 15 (former) FMF members. In addition, we continue to annually go away for a weekend with our own board, the "Oldies", this year Zeeland; to remember the old times, the criticize current practice of the FMF (we still receive inside information), to discuss the past year and philosophize about what the future will bring us. In our midst, we now have a student, an almost promoted, a revenue manager and two consultants. Where would we be in 10 years from now?