Object 6

object 6 afbeelding

The story that tells the truth is story number 3. This VU heritage object is a corporate gift.

1. Expression of gratitude for development of tsunami warning system
Due to their location some 60 miles off the coast of West Sumatra, Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands are a popular destination for scientists, including scientists from VU Amsterdam. There, they study the indigenous animal species in order to better understand how animals evolve and adapt to their conditions. Sumatra and Java attract scientists too, particularly geologists. After all, Indonesia is the country with the largest number of volcanoes in the world – over 400 of them, around 130 of which are still active.

Several scientists from VU Amsterdam were present when Mount Merapi spewed volcanic material nearly a mile into the air in 2004. The earthquake triggered an unprecedented tsunami, with devastating results. Many people will still recall the horrific images.

Scientists from VU Amsterdam – including biologists, oceanographers and volcanologists – helped Indonesian scientists from Satya Wacana University to study the cause and effects of this natural disaster. They also contributed to the development of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. Volcanologist Piet Vroom and oceanographer Gert-Jan Brummer received this plaque as a token of thanks for their scientific input.

2. Indonesian gift to honour centennial celebrations
Historically, VU Amsterdam has had good ties with Indonesia. Giving rise to partnerships in all kinds of subject areas, including theology, law and medical science. There has been (and still is) a lively exchange of students and academics. Some doctoral theses are jointly supervised too. Furthermore, the ties are being reinforced through regular communication between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the Governor of Jakarta.

When lavish celebrations were being held on the occasion of VU Amsterdam’s centenary in 1980, Indonesia was also present, represented by Satya Wacana University. The delegates joined in with the awarding of an honorary doctorate to a very popular medical practitioner in Indonesia, Ms S. (Fiep) Kruyt from Surabaya. She was the first woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate by VU Amsterdam. To mark this occasion, VU Amsterdam was presented with this plaque by T. Mulya Bundan, member of the Executive Board of Satya Wacana University. 2017 saw this plaque transferred to the university library by the then Beadle Nicoline van Os.

3. Corporate gift
Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (UKSW, ‘Faithful to the Word’) was founded in 1956 as a Christian teacher training college, and was transformed into a fully fledged  Christian university in 1959. VUvereniging donated substantial sums for the purposes of the requisite expansion in terms of the university library’s collection. Furthermore, VU Amsterdam lecturers were also sent to Java for shorter or longer periods (sometimes as long as a decade) to support with course design. The Rector of UKSW was nominated for an honorary doctorate in 1972. This met with fierce protest on the part of students due to his (alleged) role in the disappearance of communist students during General Suharto’s coup in 1965. The ceremony went ahead, but took place in an out-of-the-way location. Attendees even entered via underground tunnels to avoid the protesting students.

Ties with the university loosened in the 1990s due to internal issues, but were revived from 2000 onwards. The plaque displayed symbolizes this turbulent relationship between Universitas Kristen Satya Watjana and VU Amsterdam.