Caroline Pauwels, honorary rector at the VUB, has passed away. This is reported by the VUB. The 58-year-old professor suffered from stomach and esophageal cancer. “She was a great inspirer with a clear vision. Her commitment did not only apply to the VUB, but to society as a whole”, it sounds.
Pauwels passed away on Friday 5 August at UZ Brussel. The professor of Communication Sciences had been suffering from stomach and esophageal cancer for several years. Earlier this year, she was therefore forced to resign from her position as VUB rector. “A serious illness and the exceptionally beautiful, but also demanding task as rector can no longer be combined at this stage of my illness,” it sounded.
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“We will miss Caroline at the VUB enormously, but we will always carry her in our hearts”, reacts ad-interim rector and elected successor Jan Danckaert. “She has made the VUB a warm, connected and compassionate university. Connecting the VUB with the international, diverse and multilingual character of Brussels was a priority for her. Everyone mattered to Caroline Pauwels. She listened carefully, took time to think, and then made an informed decision, always with justice and humanity in mind.”
“The death of Caroline leaves the VUB with great sadness,” said Karsten De Clerck, chairman of the Board of Directors. “She was a warm and engaging personality. A great inspirer with a clear vision. Her commitment applied not only to the VUB, but to society as a whole. She put all her energy into connecting people. Until the last moment.”
“Demolish the walls”
Pauwels started as VUB rector in 2016 under the motto “Break down the walls”. She tore down the walls between the campus and the city, the university and society. She managed to build bridges and create connections with Brussels and between the scientific disciplines. She positioned the VUB as radically humanistic, radically diverse, radically democratic, radically sustainable and radically digital. Finally, she guided her university through the corona crisis before she was forced to resign from her positions herself.
At the explicit request of the professor, the funeral ceremony will take place in a family circle.