Foreword by the chair
2019, what a year! On a governance level we began with some trepidation for the transitions and new beginnings that lay before us – but through our immense collective effort, committed and resilient employees and strong institutional foundations we ensured that 2019 was full of continued achievements outlined in this report.
One of the key evolutions was the move from our formidable 24-year Director Bruno Gryseels to his successor Marc-Alain Widdowson. Along with this, it was the first full year of our new governance structure, officially introduced in mid-2018, made up of the General Council, the Board of Governors and the Management Committee. The year also encompassed the review of existing and the development of new institutional policy plans as a basis for a new covenant of support from the Flemish government. 2019 also brought with it essential recruitment processes and decisions for a new General Manager, and other key supporting functions.
As such, this year’s foreword is full of thanks to the people who have contributed so diligently to the progress made in 2019 – it is through their persistence and punctual delivery that business as usual was maintained at ITM despite the various transitions.
Firstly, thanks goes to all employees and partners for their continued dedication and commitment to ITM. You ensured continuity when leaders were often preoccupied with pressing governance priorities. Particular thanks goes to those who took on pivotal management roles ad-interim and who helped immeasurably to ensure organisational stability.
From here, my gratitude extends to our new governing bodies. Happily, the first full year of the new structure saw many organisational improvements and rising mutual trust among members. With the General Council, I am particularly pleased that we now have a structurally embedded way to gather the insights of this very diverse group – their varying perspectives are essential for ITM’s ability to answer particular and real healthcare needs of our globalised world.
I am also extremely grateful and impressed by the relentless and professional commitment of the Board. It’s a privilege to preside over this highly multifarious group of experts. What has touched me most is the genuine attachment, even ‘love’ for ITM, where despite their other exacting professional commitments, they always made time for the many extra meetings and decisions.
“The genuine attachment, even ‘love’ for ITM, is what has touched me the most this year.”
And to finish, on behalf of the whole of ITM I want to thank Bruno Gryseels and Marc-Alain Widdowson. Firstly Bruno, whose great legacy means our Institute has the strong foundations necessary for Marc-Alain to now take on the challenges ITM faces in our current tumultuous world.
And I am very pleased to report that Marc-Alain has proved he is up to these challenges through his impressive performance in his first five months. I would like to thank him for learning with such impressive speed and for accomplishing so much in such little time (and all this with a smile while moving a family to a foreign country). Besides helping to deliver our new policy plans in a very tight deadline and making remarkable progress in a new and quite complicated policy context, he created an immense amount of good will through his personal connection with staff and stakeholders including his official representation of ITM in Belgium and abroad.
We are all pleased to feel this new force join the Institute: one that promises to bring cohesion to ITM and drive us well into a new era with full confidence. A new era that I’m sure will see the Institute reach and outperform its goals of furthering research, education and services in the science of tropical medicine throughout the world.
Governor of the Province of Antwerp
Chair of the Board of Governors of ITM