VUB rector Jan Danckaert undergoes emergency heart surgery
Period of absence to allow rest and recovery after successful operation
Brussels, Monday 16 January 2022 – Jan Danckaert, rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, underwent emergency heart surgery today. Four bypass grafts were successfully made during the procedure at UZ Brussel, the university hospital attached to VUB. On doctors’ advice, Danckaert is now taking a period of absence to fully recover from the operation. Hugo Thienpont, vice-rector of Innovation & Valorisation, will temporarily take over his duties.
Following heart problems, Jan Danckaert underwent a consultation at UZ Brussel last Friday, where he was told he would need to undergo bypass surgery as soon as possible. The operation has since taken place successfully.
“I am grateful for the good care from the doctors and nursing staff at UZ Brussel. I am taking their advice seriously and will rest as much as possible to let my body recover from the surgery,” says Jan Danckaert. “After that, I will return in full force as rector of VUB. ‘Reculer pour mieux sauter’, as they say. I am confident that my policy team will keep the university on track during my absence.”
That team includes the four vice-rectors: Pieter Ballon, Karin Vanderkerken, Nadine Engels and Hugo Thienpont. Thienpont, vice-rector for Innovation & Valorisation and a professor in the Faculty of Engineering, was also vice-rector during the tenure of Caroline Pauwels. An experienced face, he will assume the duties of rector in Danckaert’s absence.
“At Jan’s request, I am taking over his duties as rector. I will do everything in my power to do it well,” says Thienpont. “We must give Jan and his family time to recover and, above all, to rest properly. On behalf of the policy team and the entire VUB community, I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Jan Danckaert started his first term as VUB rector at the beginning of this academic year. In March 2022 he became rector ad-interim when Caroline Pauwels was forced to relinquish her duties due to illness. It is not yet known when he will return to work.