Groeten Index

Kicked off Tilburg University


I readily concede: if you choose not to be consistently normal, the risks are yours. As a chimp, your keepers might move you to a well fenced private place since in the group you will get too many beatings. But nerds at universities, that had been doable for quite some time. I held out 25 years. During that time, three professors praised me into a distant place on the far corridor of the department floor, and came once a year to harvest my publications for the front page of their annual reports. In the editorial staff meeting one would ask: "Bert Hamminga, who is that again?"

But finally, in the end-run of debilitation of the Dutch Universities, end of the 1990's, I got new boss  again, the fourth.

That man did make a difference! The Foundation Catholic University Brabant drafted a request for firing Dr. L. Hamminga for the local court. In it, I found myself to be an ill-disciplined staff member, who had been unable to adapt to streamlined organization the modern university. Most notably, I indulged in research in Africa which was not relevant to philosophy of science, my field of assignment. I was tampering with declarations, planned to violate copyrights, was a prolific liar, and had regularly engaged in sexual harassments, all this firmly documented in a file of respectable weight, sporting official reproofs, filed complaints and devastating formal staff evaluations of all sorts. Petitioner of dismissal added "there are no grounds whatsoever for damage restitutions, the blame for the situation completely is Hamminga's".

But they preferred to settle. Thus, October 1, 2001, The University of Tilburg fired me.

It is uncertain whether this will be the last expulsion in the 21st century of a scholar from a Western university but it could, in my estimation, well be. In any case it is a unique item on my c.v. which fails to displease me.

I was paid substantial damages. That added to my savings - I never drove expensive cars - I now could go to Africa and would never again need a job. I was 50, had become lecturer at 25, never changed rank so the routine official increments (Dutch university staff ranking an payment follows the routines for civil servants) had kept coming. As a result, in the last years I had earned more than the Dutch professors "new style", since new style meant half salary.

I continued my Africa research ("no philosophy of science" according to the petitionar of the dismissal).

It got published as: Hamminga, B. (ed.) Knowledge Cultures. Comparative Western and African Epistemology (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 88) Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2005, with chapters by Prof. Kwame Anthony Appiah, Princeton University, USA, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda and Prof. Leszek Nowak, Poznan University, Poland, editor in chief of the series (reference)

Meanwhile I sailed and lived on a traditional African dhow on Lake Victoria.

Photo: Editorial meeting with Pres. Museveni of Uganda, one of my co-authors writing the book Knowledge Cultures