Part III

A promising legacy and future (2000–2020 and beyond)

A major educational reform in 1999 – the introduction of the harmonised European bachelor-master model as stipulated by the Bologna Agreement – marks the start of educational programmes at RSM aligning with those of other European universities. When the Netherlands signed the Bologna Accord in 1999, RSM restructures its bachelor curriculum so that undergraduate programmes now last three years and master programmes now range from 12 to 18 months in duration.

The new millennium marks the introduction of more new programmes, including new undergraduate and post-experience courses. Working on the understanding that ‘business is global’, and at the instigation of Dean Paul Verhaegen, RSM launches the new BSc in International Business Administration – a three-year degree taught in English. It’s a bold move which further opens up the School to international students and international faculty.

With the creation of the BSc International Business Administration programme in 2000, a new student association is formed. BActive fills a growing need from international students for English-language networking activities.

Watch the 2001 promotional video for Bedrijfskunde.

Professor Harald Benink serves as dean of programmes and is assisted by just one member of staff, Adri Meijdam. Twenty years later, Adri Meijdam is now executive director of bachelor programmes. In a 2006 interview, Benink recalls:

“When we started in 1999 there was nothing, just an idea. We started an international recruitment campaign and the first year we managed to get 200 students from around 40 countries.”

The programmes develop significantly as their reputations grow, reinforcing the School’s position as a destination for a truly international pre-experience education; in 2020 the student population comes from more than 100 countries.

➤ In 2002, the Global Executive OneMBA programme, designed and delivered by a unique consortium of five leading international business schools, launches.

It combines classes in Rotterdam with international residencies on four different continents. It is the first time that an MBA programme offers participants a uniquely global and immersive experience.

In 2005, RSM B.V. and the business administration faculty of Erasmus University combine forces to create a new, combined entity, RSM Erasmus University. The new School offers an enhanced selection of educational offerings ranging from bachelor to postgraduate. New branding and the launch of the School’s website,, provide its own identity as a fully-formed and international business school. Outlining the thinking behind the School’s strategy, the dean, Prof. Han van Dissel, observes: “We must make sure that our academics and our work remain interesting to our key constituent – the business world.” From 2005, all RSM’s master courses are offered in English, making them accessible to international students. In addition to widening the potential student base, a further advantage is the ability to attract more English-speaking international staff. The full English programme makes international accreditation possible. In the same year, while celebrating the School’s 35th anniversary, the T-Building (now called Mandeville building) officially opens. The building is wrapped in a huge red ribbon which is ceremoniously cut with a giant pair of scissors by abseilers, Ivo Opstelten, mayor of Rotterdam makes a speech through loudspeakers, and a base-jumper leaps from the roof as a finale.

2005: Opening of new T-building (now called Mandeville)

RSM rates as the best business school in Europe in the 2005 Beyond Grey Pinstripes rankings for its innovations in environmental, social and ethical impact.

Kees van Rooijen, member of the Executive Board of Erasmus University

Kees van Rooijen, member of the Executive Board of Erasmus University

For students, 2005 is an important year when Sviib and BActive merge to form STAR, making it the main student association for all of RSM’s students. The largest student association in Europe with a professional full-time board, STAR develops its mission to enrich student life along three pillars: career start support, development and academic support, and social interaction. Today it has 6,500 members and organises around 450 events every year, including the hugely successful STAR Management Week which is now considered the largest off-campus business and recruitment event for students in the Benelux.

In the same year, RSM introduces the Living Management Project concept into its MBA curriculum, which encourages students to develop critical, conceptual and creative thinking and the ability to make informed decisions.

Elizabeth van Geerestein featured on the cover of RSM's alumni magazine

In 2006, RSM’s Wieteke Dupain, a participant of the MScIBA/CEMS programme, beats competitors from top European and US business schools to win the prestigious Global Student Leadership Award – a first for a non-US business student. RSM MBA alumna, Elizabeth van Geerestein also achieves an important first when she receives the European Federation of Black Women Business Owners (EFBWBO) Award (European category). Also in 2006, a mentoring scheme is introduced in which senior businesswomen from corporate organisations mentor MBA students. The focus of the initiative is to redress the balance between men and women in business leadership roles.

Prof. Daan van Knippenberg: Winner of ERIM’s Praeceptor Doctorum Celeberrimus (Highly Distinguished Supervisor) Award

Erasmus Behavioral Laboratory

Erasmus Behavioral Laboratory

In 2007, ERIM celebrates the publication of 100 PhD dissertations, the first being by Robert van der Meer in 2000. ERIM’s Praeceptor Doctorum Celeberrimus (Highly Distinguished Supervisor) Award is bestowed upon faculty members who have made the outstanding achievement of supervising 25 PhDs. The award has only been presented five times; the recipients are Prof. Frans van den Bosch working in management interfaces between organisations and environment; Prof. Rommert Dekker working in operations research, quantitative logistics, and IT; Prof. Philip Hans Franses working in applied econometrics and marketing research; Prof. Henk Volberda working in strategic management and business policy; and Prof. Daan van Knippenberg working in organisational behaviour.

In the same year, a new research facility opens in T-Building; the Erasmus Behavioural Laboratory is a groundbreaking facility that allows for advanced behavioural research. It was made possible with the support of the Erasmus Trustfonds and the University Board.

In 2008, the School officially changes its name to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

The abbreviation “RSM” is widely used today and has even entered the vernacular among the community; students call themselves “RSM-ers”.

To further strengthen its portfolio, all of RSM’s MSc tracks are transformed into stand-alone International Master of Science programmes in 2010.

➤ In 2010, RSM's I WILL communications campaign launches.

‘I WILL’ asks students, staff faculty, alumni and corporate partners to make a public commitment to their drive and ambitions. By 2020, there are more than 10,000 statements. Also in 2010, and for the fifth consecutive year, Elsevier names RSM as the best institute in the Netherlands for bachelor business education.

In 2013, RSM’s MSc International Management programme reaches 5th place in the Financial Times global ranking of business schools.

In 2014, the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations launches with Prof. Dianne Bevelander, professor of management education, at the helm. The Centre’s remit is to develop research, programmes, events, mentoring, coaching and networks to empower women in business. In 2019 she wins the Female Academics Moving toward Equity (FAME) Athena Award, which is presented by EUR to recognise individuals who stimulate and encourage female talent within its community.

The department of Business-Society Management celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. Its MSc Global Business & Sustainability programme, which has developed through several versions since it started in 2006, is updated specifically for a new generation of young leaders with the capacity to think critically about business strategies and create new sustainable business models for the future.

In 2019, ERIM celebrates its 20th anniversary. The number of researchers at ERIM increases from 136 in 1999 to 379 in 2019. The number of articles published annually in top research journals by ERIM researchers rises from 133 in 1999 to 309 in 2019. The close co operation between the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) and RSM results in major achievements, making ERIM not just one of the largest centres of economy and management research in Europe, but also one of the most highly respected. Further confirmation of ERIM’s excellence is reflected in RSM’s place in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Shanghai ranking) that year, when RSM is third worldwide for Business Administration.

For 50 years, from its conception by a passionate group of founders and the enthusiastic participation by the first students to today, RSM has continually evolved. Across RSM’s history, the School has made its mark by:

➤ Growing and expanding through a solid and well-executed plan aimed at attracting students and staff, and which engages with and serves stakeholders.

➤ Diversifying, and yet establishing a brand by continuously adapting and introducing new programmes fitting the needs of students, corporate partners and governing bodies.

➤ Developing a research-based business school with world-class international staff that has achieved the prestigious triple crown in accreditations, and strong positions in numerous respected global rankings.

Half a century on, the original visions of the founding partners – the multinationals, the first members of staff and the inaugural class of 1970 – have been more than realised. The generous donations provided by the Dutch multinationals and continued support from many quarters has made it possible for business administration to become an established academic discipline in the Netherlands. In 2002, the remaining funds donated by the founding partners were transferred to the Erasmus Trustfonds to be invested into the stewardship of postgraduate business education. The Erasmus Trustfonds is a hybrid fund that holds equity and also fundraises to support scientific research and young talent. Generous RSM alumni and supporters show their commitment to being a force for positive change with donations for scholarships that allow RSM to continue to provide transformative opportunities in Rotterdam and around the world.

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