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Sandra Nienhuis new coordinator at 4TU

Thursday, 13 April 2023

On 1 April, Sandra Nienhuis started as coordinator at the 4TU.Federation. She assists the secretary Marjolein Dohmen-Janssen and succeeds Linda Baljeu (policy advisor; Convergence Alliance). We talked with Sandra on the Delft campus; during her introduction tour along the four universities of technology.

Sandra you are no stranger to the university world looking at your LinkedIn profile. How did you enter it?

Love brought me to Enschede and thus to the University of Twente. The period before, I was a secretary at notary agencies and a bailiff's office in the north and centre of the country. Having experienced the world of law and deeds, I was ready for something new. The campus of the University of Twente piqued my curiosity, and there turned out to be a vacancy in the former policy office. I noticed the different way of thinking, people looking at how to achieve goals together, in a constructive manner. A very nice atmosphere to work in!

And I see you've been there for quite a long time

Yes I did. After working as a secretary for the chairman of the Executive Board for a while, I switched to the Student Union. I ended up spending 20 years there, the last years as manager of operations.

What does the Student Union do?

The Student Union is intended for students and is run by the students themselves. They incorporate students' perspectives on policy issues, but also facilitate them with services, allowing them to work on personal development beside their studies under the motto: to empower students 'to achieve more than a degree'.

The Executive Board of Twente has decided to hand over some policy issues to the Student Union, which is unique in terms of the approach model. Next to Twente,  you also see this model in Scandinavia and England.

Back to the present. What are you going to do for the four TUs, what can we reach you for?

Most of my time I will be spending on preparing the meetings within the 4TU framework and setting out the actions arising from them.  There are a large number of meetings, ranging from meetings of the Executive and General Board of 4TU to meetings of 4TU.Research or 4TU.Education.

I am the first point of contact for 4TU, so I would say 'Fire your questions at me, and I will help you. If not, I will refer you to the right department'.

You've finished the first week, what catches your eye?

It is a very inspiring environment, where I will be dealing with a lot of different people and organisations based on the many partnerships that are ongoing. I feel that the people and process knowledge I have built up in all my previous jobs will fit nicely here. In these first days, I have already been able to attend a meeting of the Sectorplan Onderwijs Bètatechniek, and visited the UT and TU/e campuses for introductions. Today I am at TU Delft, and next week the WUR campus is on the programme. Everywhere I experience a warm welcome.

What do you do in your spare time?

I really enjoy making my own clothes. Something I learned from childhood. It's really nice to do something with your hands after spending the whole day working with your head. It stimulates creativity that you can also use in your work. In my previous jobs, I learned that it is useful to have five options ready, which you can use depending on what the situation or people ask for at that moment. I think that way of thinking will also be very useful in the setting of the four Tus, where teamwork is key.

Finally, is there anything else you want to say?

Yes definitely! That although the secretary and project coordinator's place of employment is currently in Twente, we are there for all four TU’s. We seek to connect with all researchers and staff, in other words, we are at the centre of the four TU’s!


Short Bio

Sandra Nienhuis studied secretarial studies and 'Dietetics and Nutrition' in Groningen. After a period in which she worked in various secretarial and administrative positions at notary agencies and a bailiff's office in the north and centre of the country, she joined the University of Twente, where she started as a secretary at the Policy Office and Executive Board, and in the last years contributed to the Student Union in various positions.