The feather – Vicky Verlinden

A feather in your cap: the feather is a prize passed on from one UAntwerp colleague to another in recognition of their efforts or achievements. This time, Miet Kuppens (Faculty of Social Sciences) passes the feather on to Vicky Verlinden (Institute of Development Policy).

It took a while for her to be featured in this section, but this month, it’s finally her turn. Vicky Verlinden, it’s my great pleasure to pass the feather on to you.

For many former and current members of staff, it might be hard to imagine, but there was a time when the Institute of Development Policy (IOB) wasn’t run by Vicky as institute coordinator. Back then, I worked there as a PhD student, and one day in 2013, an enthusiastic new employee walked into my office to introduce herself. Vicky and IOB immediately hit it off.

That day, the ‘Vicky era’ began, as she kicked the administration and coordination of the institute into a higher gear. Vicky took on her new role with passion, enthusiasm, and a large dose of professionalism: roadmaps were refined, procedures optimised, schedules drawn up, and visions developed. She has since become a steady presence you can count on: no IOB without Vicky.

But the reason why I’m passing the feather on to Vicky is not so much because of her professional achievements, but more because of the warmth and the fantastic personality she brings to the role. She makes time to listen, to analyse problems and to offer constructive solutions. She gives comforting pep talks to PhD students — I can testify to that — and is someone many colleagues choose to confide in.

If there’s a party, a quiz, or an after-work drink, you can count on Vicky to be there. Some of my favourite moments together include the institute-wide Werewolves game; the IOB Oscars ceremony; her stunning musical accompaniment of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on the recorder; our team’s victory in the 2016 staff quiz; our endless preparations for the 2017 edition of that same quiz; and of course our many pleasant lunch breaks and visits to Kassa 4.

Dear Vicky, although our careers have parted ways, I’m glad our bond has remained strong. No need to thank me for the feather, but would you please play ‘My Heart Will Go On’ for me again on your recorder?