Dr. Yehojachin Simon (Y.S.) Brenner †
Dr. Yehojachin Simon (Y.S.) Brenner, known as Joe Brenner, has been an honorary member of ECU’92 since 2006. He was a professor in economic history at universities in Israel, Switzerland, England, Ghana, Turkey and lastly Utrecht University. More precisely, Brenner taught economics at the social sciences department of the UU. For ECU’92 however, he took on a different, rather surprising role.
Besides his passion for economics, Brenner wrote historical books and novels. He used this writing talent for ECU’92, by writing columns in the association’s magazine the ECU’nomist from the very beginning. These columns were called the dinosaur columns and were bundled in ‘The Brenner Bundle’ in 2007. If you’re interested in reading one or more of his columns, our archive is full of old ECU’nomists.
Brenner has been of great influence on the history of modern Israel, he was a big supporter of Keynesian economics and has always showed support for human and in particular student rights. Unfortunately, Brenner passed away in 2010, but to our great joy he is eternalized in his books, deeds and ECU’nomist columns. Conclusively, we are still very honoured to have had him as one of our honorary members.
Ineke Kok has been an honorary member of ECU’92 since 2000. In her role as a supporting employee at the social sciences department of Utrecht University, she has meant a lot for the establishment of ECU’92. When ECU’92 was founded, they needed a room and equipment like computers, screens, desks etc. At that moment, Ineke Kok was the designated person to arrange all that.
Although she was not obliged to do so, she stuck out her neck for our association. She made sure ECU’92 got her own room and in that sense a strong bargaining position in the succeeding years. Since ECU’92 was founded, we have been in great places and rooms like the Biltstraat, the Uithof, Janskerkhof and nowadays the Spinoza building. Without a room to begin with, this would have been a lot more difficult. Therefore, we are very pleased to have Ineke Kok as one of our honorary members.
Jan Reijnders became an honorary member on February the 20th, 2012. In the very first Ecunomist, published in 1992, page 3 tells us the story of the founding of ECU’92. It tells us that the founders separately had the idea to found a study association for the program Social and Institutional Economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Both knocked on the door of dr. Jan Reijnders, who was chairman of the department of Social Economics, to discuss the possibilities of founding a study association.
The initial proposal of ECU’92’s founders was to found a study association for Social Institutional Economists only. It should be noted, that in these days there was no Utrecht University School of Economics yet (this was founded in 2001). The faculties of History, Geography, Law and Social Sciences all had their own economic programs. The faculty of Social Sciences was the most advanced with their Economics project, since they already had their own ‘Propedeuse’.
Jan Reijnders was committed to have a better cooperation between the different faculties. Therefore, when the founders of ECU’92 dropped by with the idea of establishing a Social Institutional Economics Study Association, dr. Reijnders told them to take a broader view and also include students of the other faculties in this project. We could say that this has been a crucial advice in the founding of the ‘Economie Combinatie Utrecht 1992’. Instead of becoming a sub-association at the Social Science faculty, ECU’92 became an interfaculty study association for all economics students at Utrecht University. It is this indispensable advice, which was crucial for what the association ECU’92 is nowadays.
Since ECU’92 was founded, the Boards remained in close contact with dr. Reijnders. The contacts were mainly based on the design of the curriculum, the evaluation of the study SIE, the contact with other faculties and student participation in general. To give examples: dr. Reijnders was member of the SRC (Studierichtingencommissie) and the Education Committee. Also dr. Reijnders shaped his lectures around a series of lectures by prof. dr. J.J. van Duijn organised by ECU’92. In conclusion, dr. Reijnders has been a big supporter of ECU’92 right from the start and we're honoured to have him as one of ECU'92's honorary members.
Prof. dr. Hans Schenk has been an honorary member of ECU’92 since September the 8th, 2015. He was already involved with ECU’92 even before there was an economics department in Utrecht. The first activity Schenk was involved in is still fresh in his mind. This was a two-person debate held on one of the top floors of the former Holiday Inn (now NH) hotel in Utrecht between him and the former chairman of the board of directors of Akzo, which is now Akzo Nobel. After the debate, taking place in the first half of the 1990s, Hans Schenk already discussed the possibility of an economics department in Utrecht with one of the first boards of ECU’92.
This economics department was also discussed within Utrecht University and initially the plan was to establish an economics research department in Utrecht with the help of two leading economists in the Netherlands. However, in discussions with the then chairman of UU’s Board, Hans Schenk explicitly supported prof. Peter de Gijsel, soon after to be the first Dean of U.S.E., who had strongly put forward that a research department could not exist without an education department. Education, he says, “is a fundamental part of the scientific process because it leads not just to the diffusion but also the evolution of knowledge.” This combination of science and education was and still is of great importance to ECU’92.
U.S.E. was established in 2002. One of the goals of the economics department, initiated by the incoming executive team (De Gijsel, Schenk, and prof. Harry Garretsen) was to engage students as much as possible. For example students have become involved with decision-making by making it possible to appoint students in the various boards and committees at U.S.E., including the management board. Moreover, the new team made it possible that ECU’92 was to have its own (Board) room. Also, Hans Schenk, in cooperation with ECU’92, has developed the first version of course evaluations which arguably have contributed to the improvement of education at U.S.E.
After the founding of U.S.E., Hans Schenk and ECU’92 stayed in contact, mainly informal. Examples include his supporting active members and board members to find a job because these are, as he says, “the students whom I have got to know personally”. Also, he often helps ECU’92 to find speakers and debaters for conferences and seminars by introducing the organizers to his network. Next to that, Hans Schenk has frequently helped ECU’92 with the actual proceedings of its annual conferences by acting as a moderator. Next to that it was not an exception to see Hans Schenk as a participant in, or moderator of ECU’92’s DLC-lectures. ECU’92 is therefore more than happy that he has accepted the honorary membership and the Board hopes that the successful collaboration of the past years can be continued in future years.
Jan Veldhuis has been an honorary member of ECU’92 since December the 6th, 2003. He has been of great importance to ECU’92 by being actively involved with the founding of Utrecht University School of Economics (U.S.E.). Before, ECU’92 was a coalition of students who studied sociology, geography, law and history but who were interested in economics as well. With the founding of U.S.E., ECU’92 got the chance to increase the number of members automatically due to the supply of economic students.
As mentioned above, as the chairman of the executive board of Utrecht University, Jan Veldhuis played an important role in the founding of U.S.E. He saw the importance of an economics department because the university at that time thought the future policy makers would be economists. As Jan Veldhuis said himself (own interpretation): “at first, Utrecht University wanted to remain a dignified university keeping studies like economics, agricultural sciences etc. on a distance, but when it became clear that future, national policy would be made by economists, there was no other way.”
Thus, Utrecht University School of Economics was founded in 2002. Since then, ECU’92 has exponentially grown in number of members, number of activities and level of importance. Nowadays, we are one of the biggest study associations of the Netherlands, representing over 1900 members. Without the key role Jan Veldhuis has played in the establishment of an economics study in Utrecht, this would have been impossible to achieve.
The great thing about Jan Veldhuis is that we still meet with him every year to have a cup of coffee and listen to stories about Utrecht University, ECU’92 and other student and study associations. He is still actively involved in multiple board positions as for instance chairman of the Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities and member of many supervisory boards. We are very happy to have Jan Veldhuis as an honorary member and we hope we can have coffee and learn from his wisdom for many years to come.