On March 15, 2017, a ceremony took place in the residence of H.Exc. Geert Muylle, permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva, on the occasion of the departure of the Prof. Walter van Doninck, who was Belgian delegate to the CERN Council. He fulfilled this mandate for eight years.
Below you will find the speech pronounced by Mrs Véronique Halloin, also Belgian delegate to the CERN Council and General Secretary of the National Funds for Scientific Research.
Tribute to Walter van Doninck
By Véronique Halloin – 15th March 2017
First, I would like to thank the Belgian Ambassador and the Mission for organizing and hosting this tribute ceremony for Professor Walter van Doninck.
I am sure Walter will join me to thank all of you for attending this ceremony. There are many of you, colleagues and CERN staff. Probably because you like Belgium, for sure! But more seriously I guess because all of you appreciate Walter.
Let me shortly come back on his scientific career. Born in 1948, Walter studied physics in RUCA-Antwerp and in VUB, the Flemish University of Brussels. His love story with the CERN is an old one. His PhD in sciences was on the experimental discovery of weak neutral currents, in the Gargamelle experiment (funny because ‘Gargamel’ is the name of the sorcerer in the Belgian Smurfs comic books).
After his PhD, he has worked since as researcher and has played an important role in CMS’s development. He had prestigious memberships, such as member of the Board of Director of the European Physical Society. He is author or co-author of more than 500 scientific publications in refereed international journals.
After several major stays in the US, he became Research Director at the Research Foundation-Flanders and Professor at the VUB. He has been detached at CERN as scientific associate in 2000.
He became the scientific representative of Belgium at CERN in 2009 and was elected Vice-President of the CERN Council in 2012. He felt deeply honored and Belgium was very proud.
During all these years, he met prestigious visitors among the Belgian sovereigns and numerous Ministers to whom he explained with talent the complex experiences. Estimated by the delegations and the administration of the CERN, Walter always defended brilliantly the point of view of Belgium to CERN. For instance, the name given to the so-called Higgs Boson without any mention of Englert was a subject that really deserved to do battle! Walter also managed with diplomacy and skills the Laboratory, convinced of the importance of basic scientific research for the development of the knowledge and the progress of the humanity.
Speaking personally, I wish to express my pleasure to have collaborated with him. Most of you know how difficult it can be to enter a Governing Board with a very long history, very long term projects such as the LHC, or long term problems such as the Pension Fund and it was extremely useful for me to benefit from his knowledge about it.
On behalf of all, thank you Walter; we wish you only the best!