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It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Prof. Dianne Bevelander, Professor of Management Education in Rotterdam School of Management’s department of Business-Society Management and Executive Director of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO).

During her three decades with RSM, Prof. Bevelander placed gender equality and diversity firmly on the agendas of our business school and of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), as well as more broadly within academia and the international business community.

Among her pioneering achievements was designing and launching the trailblazing RSM MBA Women Empowering Women Kilimanjaro Leadership Project (2011–2014), and founding ECWO in 2014 as a standalone centre within RSM BV to conduct research, offer executive development programmes and advisory services, and engage in advocacy. ECWO’s contribution to positive change in society was recognised in 2017 when Prof. Bevelander accepted the inaugural RSM Positive Change Award for the Centre’s role in building diverse and inclusive organisations.

Prof. Bevelander guided ECWO to its current position as a leader and innovator in its field. In her role as ECWO Executive Director, she was instrumental in securing a consortium-based H2020 grant for EQUAL4EUROPE, a project running from Jan 2020 to Dec 2023 that will develop and implement Gender Equality Plans for research organisations and universities. Among the many accolades she received during her life, Prof. Bevelander was named winner of the 2019 FAME Athena Award, presented by EUR to recognise individuals who stimulate and encourage female talent within the EUR community and beyond.

In a recent interview Prof. Bevelander described her professional journey as a “privilege and an absolute blast”. She also outlined ECWO’s robust vision for the future under the leadership of Prof. Dr Hanneke Takkenberg who was appointed Co-Executive Director at ECWO in December 2019 and who took over as Executive Director in April this year.

“We are heartbroken at the loss of one of the world’s most remarkable women,” said the ECWO team. “Dianne’s vision led directly to ECWO’s establishment as the first of its kind in a business school. Her tireless, fearless leadership and advocacy enabled us to empower many women to move into positions of leadership and become change agents for gender equality.”

Prof. Bevelander’s passion saw her building the ECWO network and community right until the end, and her incredible resilience meant she continued working throughout her illness.

“Dianne has described ECWO as having planted a powerful tree – one that she will no longer be able to sit under but that will continue to provide shade for an ever-increasing number of advocates for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” adds the ECWO team. “We intend to keep nurturing and growing that tree and ensure that her legacy lives on.”

Prof. Ansgar Richter, Dean of RSM, said: “It is a privilege to have gotten to know Dianne, albeit only briefly, during the last phase of her life. Never afraid to challenge established views and conventions, her energy and optimism were boundless. Her life and work will leave a lasting effect on the whole of the RSM community, and on the lives of many women in organisations around the world.”

Our thoughts are with Prof. Bevelander’s family and loved ones. We wish them strength during this difficult time.

On behalf of Rotterdam School of Management,

Prof. Ansgar Richter

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