TERENA’s Secretary General, Karel Vietsch, has been honoured with a royal decoration for his outstanding contribution to research and education networking and the Internet in general. Appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, Karel was presented with the Dutch royal insignia by the Vice-Mayor and Alderman of Leiden, Mr. Robert Strijk, during a private ceremony on Monday 13 May.
Karel has continued to show his commitment to research and education networking during the past year, despite an illness that has caused him to be on leave since March 2012. During this time he still provided support and information to TERENA Secretariat staff and participated in some community meetings. Speaking on behalf of the staff, Acting Secretary General Valentino Cavalli said, “we owe a lot of what we are now to Karel and are thrilled that his important contribution to research and education networking has been recognised with this royal honour. We congratulate Karel whole-heartedly on this achievement.”
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An album of photos from the ceremony is available on TERENA’s Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/16992jK
Keep reading for more information about Karel’s life and achievements:
Karel’s royal distinction was supported by friends and colleagues from various phases of his career.
Gerard Weel is a former colleague from the Dutch Ministry of Education and Sciences, where Karel worked from 1984 and headed the Department of Information and Infrastructure from 1992-1996. He said “the European research networking infrastructure, the expansion to East European countries, the intercontinental connectivity of European research and thus the node position of the Dutch SURFnet in my opinion to a considerable extent are due to the amiable, intelligent and tenacious commitment of Dr. Karel Vietsch.”
During his time at the Ministry, Karel was involved in the implementation of the research part of the government’s Computer Science Promotion Plan, which included the creation of SURFnet. He also represented the Netherlands in the Co-operation for Open Systems Interconnection Networking in Europe (COSINE) project’s Policy Group. Dr. Peter Tindemans, who chaired that group said, “he was exceptionally good at his place in the international game: tenacious, knowledgeable, accurate, amiable, easily making contacts whether with policy-makers, administrators or researchers and technical specialists.”
When Karel became TERENA Secretary General in 1996 “he stabilised the situation,” according to Kees Neggers, who headed SURFnet for many years and knew Karel since the 1980s. Formed from the fusion of RARE and EARN, TERENA was experiencing internal cultural differences that Karel soon smoothed. “This is where Karel made an indispensible contribution to the healthy development of networking in Europe and ensured that Amsterdam fulfilled a key role in the current Internet.”
Another early achievement at TERENA was Karel’s contribution to the blossoming of RIPE NCC, with his recognition that it should break away from TERENA and become an independent organisation. Daniel Karrenberg, one of RIPE’s founders and its Chief Scientist, said, “Karel contributed to it becoming a globally respected institution in the self-managed Internet. I am of the opinion that Karel’s contribution to the self-management of the Internet was crucial in its formative period. Without Karel the Internet in Europe would perhaps have been less successful.”
Dorte Olesen, former head of the Danish national research and education networking organisation UNI.C and former TERENA president agrees. “Making all European countries collaborate in research and education networking is a great achievement, and the fact that this has been accomplished is very much due to the dedication and extraordinarily hard work put in by Karel Vietsch.”
As a partner of the pan-European network project GÉANT, TERENA has been involved in a number of activities, including Karel’s leadership of Status and Trends, which delivered the influential foresight study, EARNEST. Karel was also an observer in the Board of Directors of DANTE, which manages GÉANT. Matthew Scott, Joint General Manager of DANTE, says: “Karel has played a significant and influential role and has been a very active member of the NREN Policy Committee and the Executive Committee. He has led TERENA’s participation over many years and has been a highly valued member of the Project Management Team. Karel is an exceptional individual, recognised across the community for his professionalism and dedication to research and education networking. I am extremely proud to be able to congratulate Karel in his achieving this very well deserved and prestigious award.”
Karel also played a role in international collaboration in research and education networking, fulfilling TERENA’s status of permanent observer in the ENPG (European Networking Policy Group) which was created in 1995 to succeed COSINE. He also participated in CCIRN (Co-ordinating Committee for Inter-continental Research).
Don Stikvoort, who worked closely with Karel over many years on TRANSITS security training, Trusted Introducer and TF-CSIRT said, “Karel played a distinctive and inspiring role in helping to set up Internet security in Europe, in cooperation with the rest of the world. Typically, he never felt himself too good for any task, and in this way he set a good example.”