25 February 2016

In memoriam Ronald van Kempen (1958-2016)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ronald van Kempen, Professor of Urban Geography and former Dean of the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. Ronald died after a brief period of illness on Sunday, 21 February, 2016.

Ronald studied Human Geography specialising in Urban Geography at the University of Amsterdam. He obtained his doctorate from Utrecht University in 1992, after which he was an assistant professor of Urban Housing Market Processes. In 2002 he was appointed as a full professor of Urban Geography at Utrecht University, specialising in socio-spatial developments in major cities and metropolitan policy. Outside the faculty he established himself in the field of urban issues. He was editor of the Journal of Housing and the Built Environment (1997-2000), Vice-President of the European Network of Housing Research (2000-2004) and in 2006 was quartermaster of the Netherlands Institute for City and Innovation Studies (NICIS). He was still an active member of the Social Sciences Council and the Supervisory Board of the Verweij Jonker Institute shortly before his death.


For many years, Ronald worked enthusiastically and tirelessly for social and geographical education and research in our faculty. As a professor of Urban Geography he was mainly connected to the theme of spatial diversity and social inequality in cities. His last major undertaking was DIVERCITIES, a European Commission project that has considerable appreciation and in which he worked with great zeal and pleasure. His scientific authority was widely recognised both nationally and internationally as evidenced by his many international publications, citations, keynotes and collaborations.


From 2011 to 2014 Ronald was Dean of the Faculty. During his deanship, he lead the faculty community with heart and soul and laid the foundation for the healthy growth and development of our faculty. Ronald fulfilled his administrative function amiably with a strong sense of personal connection with others aided by a healthy dose of humour and a sense of perspective. He was a model of academic expertise and leadership in both teaching and research within the Department of Human Geography and Planning.

Ronald was always genuinely interested in the person behind the face: his peers, undergraduate and graduate students. He was not ‘just’ a colleague, he was, above all, a friend.
The rapid loss is beyond belief. We will miss him very much.

Martin Dijst and Piet Hoekstra
Head of Department Human Geography and Planning and Dean Faculty of Geosciences

You can sign the condolence book on the 6th floor of the Willem C. van Unnik building.