There are many reactions to the death of former VUB rector Caroline Pauwels. She passed away yesterday at the age of 58, after a long battle with cancer. She leaves behind two children.

    LIFE STORY. Former rector VUB Caroline Pauwels (58) passed away: “Her commitment was not only for the university, but for society as a whole”

    Our last interview with VUB rector Caroline Pauwels: “I could be cured of cancer, but you can’t get that medication in Belgium” (+)

    Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon calls her “a great lady”. “Last year she received a decoration from the Flemish Government, today we have to say goodbye to her. Caroline Pauwels, until recently rector of the VUB, was a great lady. My deepest condolences to her family, colleagues and friends”, so tweets the Flemish head of government.

    There are also reactions from the academic world, for example from its own VUB. “Extremely sad days at our university. We will miss Caroline at the VUB very much, but we will always carry her in our hearts. She has made the VUB a warm, connected and compassionate university”, tweets Jan Danckaert, the new elected Rector of the Brussels University.

    Marc Noppen, CEO of UZ Brussel, affiliated with the VUB, calls it “unreal” that the VUB loses two honorary rectors in one week. On Friday there was the news of the death of former rector Paul De Knop. “It is unreal… two honorary rectors died in two days? Here too, our first thoughts go out to children and loved ones. And to Caroline, of course, une Grande Dame?,” said Noppe.

    “No more words. Only tears. And deep sadness. Incomprehensible, these two days”, responds Luc Sels, rector of KU Leuven. He thanks Caroline Pauwels for “so many unforgettable moments” and wishes the entire VUB community “a lot of strength and courage”.

    “Since 2001 we have shared a lot of paths, Caroline”, says Rik Van de Walle, rector of Ghent University. “We also met on side roads. We got to know each other’s world. Stared, fantasized and imagined; read, wrote and winked. You were a fantastic companion. I loved seeing you. We will miss you very much.”

    According to Brussels minister Sven Gatz, “Caroline Pauwels transcended the rectorship and gave it an extra dimension, that of the res publica, the general interest, the universal”. “Sadness? But also tribute”, tweets the Open VLD member.

    “Caroline Pauwels was someone who always went for humanity, integrity, connection and nuance,” says Benjamin Dalle, Flemish minister for Brussels. “Promoter of human rights and freedom of the press. She fought for her ideals and for life,” writes the CD&V minister on Twitter.

    According to Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA), “the education world loses a committed professor and strong rector, society loses a simply exemplary woman”.