A memorial tree now stands in Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Park Noord in honour of Prof. Dianne Bevelander, Founder of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO).

The Tulip Tree was planted during a ceremony on October 8th attended by family members, colleagues and friends of Prof. Bevelander. The ceremony also provided the setting for the announcement of the Dianne Bevelander Memorial Fund currently being established.

ECWO Executive Director Prof. Hanneke Takkenberg began the proceedings by welcoming everyone, and introducing the speakers - Prof. Annelien Bredenoord (Rector Magnificus of EUR), Prof. Semiha Denktaş (Chief Diversity Officer EUR D&I), Prof. Ansgar Richter (Dean RSM) and Prof. Kirsten I.M. Rohde (representing FAME). The closing words came from Dr Natalie Cleton, Dianne’s daughter.

In her opening remarks, Prof Takkenberg quoted Prof Bevelander herself, from an interview she did with ECWO before her death.

“You know that saying that many of us plant the seeds of a tree under whose shade we won’t ever sit? Well I have planted the seed of a powerful tree, but I will never sit under it. I know, however, that it will have impact and it will make a different – and that, given the team I have and the support we are getting from companies and organisations, many people will be able to sit in the shade of the tree and that the tree will soon start seeding and other trees will appear. But I am very sad that I am not going to be part of the future of ECWO.”

“Here we are today, only a few months after Dianne’s passing, and I don’t know about you, but I feel her presence and energy very clearly”, said Prof Takkenberg. “I cry because she is not able to be with us anymore to see that what she has started is growing and flourishing, and simply because I miss her dearly. I laugh because she continues to appear in my thoughts and memories with her great insights, her passion for gender balance and sisterhoods, and her rebellious attitude (make noise, move mountains and say sorry afterwards).”

“I have only been here (at EUR) for a couple of weeks so I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Dianne personally,” said Prof. Bredenoord. “But on my first or second day I got to know Dianne through learning about what she achieved in 30 years at Erasmus University. I was very, very impressed and I felt more sorry that I didn’t have an opportunity to get to know her.

“I have enormous gratitude for her life and for all she has done and who she was,” added Prof. Richter, before touching on Dianne’s role in the broader community and within EUR itself. Prof Denktaş,noted that “with Dianne there was always a lot of fun. She always said to us let’s become activists – let’s do something and not just talk” while Prof Rohde remarked on how Prof Bevelander’s ability to be inclusive and authentic”.

In closing, Dr Cleton reflected on how, since the family moved to the Netherlands in the 1990s, Prof. Bevelander spent all her working life in the Netherlands at the Woudestein campus, so this place is of great importance to her”. “(Dianne’s’) journey was continuously sparked by her conviction that a person should grow and be valued by their environment – much like this tree will grow and be valued by its environment, providing us with air to breathe. We, the family, are very grateful that Erasmus University acknowledges Dianne’s spirit and achievement with this symbol of life and we hope that it will give many generations air to breathe and grow, just like Dianne did.” Dr Cleton also revealed that the Dianne Bevelander Memorial Fund is currently in the process of being set up” to further the development and recognition of ECWO.

The tree will provide an ongoing space for gathering, conversation and reflection on the values and mission that Prof. Bevelander committed her life to.

You can watch the tree planting ceremony here.

To stay updated with details of the Dianne Bevelander Memorial Fund please email dcoetzer@rsm.nl

More information

The Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO) is committed to women’s continued advancement into leadership positions across multiple sectors – from multinationals and start-ups to not-for-profit organisations. ECWO supports gender-balanced leadership through its management educationresearch and events about gender equality, and by coaching female business leaders. Its strong network leads to women empowerment and gender equality to the benefit of business and society.

EC for women and organisations