TERENA is mourning the loss of Karel Vietsch, who passed away on 23 February 2014. Karel had been TERENA’s Secretary General from March 1996 until March 2012, when illness prevented him from fulfilling his duties. In spite of this illness, Karel continued to show a strong attention to TERENA activities, providing information and support to the Secretariat staff and occasionally engaging with the wider community. He will be much missed.
As Secretary-General, Karel’s responsibilities included the day-to-day management of the TERENA Secretariat staff, the execution of policies and activities, and reporting to the TERENA Executive Committee. Karel also represented TERENA in contacts with other organisations.
His extensive knowledge, paired with his ability to commit fully to TERENA’s goals, made Karel a respected personality in the wider research and education networking community. In 2013 Karel’s outstanding contribution to networking and the Internet was rewarded; appointed an Officer in the Dutch Royal Order of Orange-Nassau, Karel was presented with the royal insignia during a private ceremony on 13 May.
Speaking on behalf of the TERENA Secretary staff, Acting Secretary General Valentino Cavalli said, “I would like to express the highest respect to Karel for having brilliantly shaped TERENA during all his years in service, as well as our gratitude for the message he gave us through his conduct in his work – thoroughly business wise and intrinsically ethical. We will miss you, Karel.”
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Karel graduated from Leiden University in 1975 with a major in mathematics and minors in economics and theoretical computer science. He was a teacher and researcher at Leiden University, and obtained a PhD in mathematics in 1979. After doing military service in The Hague, sharing one computer with twenty other conscripts, he joined Delft University of Technology as manager of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.
In 1984 he moved to the Science Policy Department of the Dutch Ministry of Education and Sciences, where he was involved in the implementation of the research part of the government’s Computer Science Promotion Plan, which included the creation of a national research network, SURFnet. Climbing through the ranks within the ministry he became Head of Unit for Information and Infrastructure in 1992, whereafter in 1996 he joined TERENA as Secretary-General.
Karel’s busy work schedule left him little spare time, but when he found some time off to travel he was keen to enjoy the atmosphere and culture of TERENA member countries.
The news item “TERENA Secretary General receives royal honour” links to photos from the decoration event of 13 May 2013 and contains more details about Karel’s achievements. A short video of the ceremony is available on TERENAtube.