I am a very proud vice-mayor today. Proud because it has been possible to house Erasmus University College in the heart of the city. Proud because of the location in the city center for which the rennovation is almost complete. And proud because the first 90 students will now begin an absolutely top education.
With the commencement of the University College, a long-cherished wish of both the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University is fulfilled It almost looked like it was going to go wrong. About 2.5 years ago, alarm bells suddenly went off at City Hall. The Board of the Erasmus University had advanced plans to establish the new, prestigious University College in Dordrecht.
We do not begrudge our neighboring municipality some of the best things in life, but that was something we could not let happen. Dordrecht, I apologize once more. We put everything we had into it and succeeded in offering the Erasmus University a location they simply could not refuse. And the other way around: We couldn’t refuse the proposal of the University. I must stress, it was a joint effert that brought us here today. Last week, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a look at the progress of the renovation of the historic building on the Nieuwe Markt. It looks good, students who are starting today will, by the end of the year, be able to have their classes in this building.
The building is going to be even more beautiful than we had imagined two years ago. For the architect, the building was kind of a candy store. Hidden behind all kinds of partitions and false walls were the most beautiful details. Roemer Pierik could unwrap the building like a gift. Ancient and modern go together flawlessly. The stained glass, marble finish and rich stucco ceilings of yesteryear combined beautifully with such modern elements as glass and stainless steel.
The renovations are nearing completion and I am so happy that we are going to start University College today. Until the renovation of the Nieuwe Markt is fully completed, the students will have their classes in the educational center of the Erasmus MC. Today 90 students will start the new top academic education in Delfshaven. A neighbourhood just as interesting as the city center.
It is good for Rotterdam that these bright youngsters are going to study in this city. A very warm welcome to you all. You will now further develop your talents and apply your knowledge and skills in the city. Of course, this world metropolis also offers plenty of other incentives to bring out the best in these outstanding students. To speak with Desiderius Erasmus: No one respects a talent that is concealed. So show and use all your talents.
We will make sure that you quickly feel at home in our city. At the moment, the students are being housed in the Student Hotel on the Oostzeedijk. In time, we will search for accommodations which are a stone's throw away from the University College. Studying and living in the heart of the city, what more do you want: right outside, you will find the best shops and cafes in the Pannenkoekstraat, the new Markthal for all your grocery shopping and the chic Meent for luxury purchases.
Ladies and Gentlemen, In late May, I attended the Rotterdam Lecture, the annual gift of the Erasmus University to the city of Rotterdam. The sociologist and professor, Willem Schinkel, held an extensive discussion on the love for Rotterdam. He wondered how you could love a city without a heart. He argued that it is precisely the lack of that 'heart' that is why Rotterdam plays 'hard to get.' And that makes the city – just like in Hollywood scenarios – all the more desirable. “It's not easy to keep once's distance. And that is precisely why the love for Rotterdam is the most true love,” says Willem Schinkel.
I am pleased that the Erasmus University was no longer able to keep its distance and vice versa the city. Today we are able to welcome the Erasmus University College into the city and soon into the center of the city. It was – as I said – a very close call … Fortunately, the love for Rotterdam won out. True love!