During the ceremony, Smits was praised for his contact with students: 'The combination of his interaction with students and making complicated subjects fascinating distinguishes this teacher from the rest.' In a response to this, René said that making a connection with students is what he believes is important, both inside and outside the lecture hall. In addition, he said that he constantly checks whether all students are still following him during his story, and if this is not the case, he will take a step back to get everyone back on track. 'It is important as a teacher that you listen carefully to why students do not understand something'.
In a few months Smits will be retiring, but fortunately he will not stop teaching completely. 'I certainly want to remain involved in the Law & Finance master's education next year and I also want to remain active outside the Netherlands, for example at the University of Bologna. To me, this election feels like the best thing that can happen to a teacher' says Smits. The IIS sincerely hopes that in addition to these educational activities, he will also devote his time and attention to the development of the Carte Blanche.
Carte Blanche 2019
Last year's winner, Elio Baldi (teacher of Romance languages and cultures), developed the ‘Open’ honours module. This course is as open as possible, an exploration of different attempts to achieve freedom through redrawing rules and boundaries within and between artistic and scientific disciplines.
Previous winners were Frank Nack, Antoinette Muntjewerff, Bas de Bruin, Joris Marée, Mieke Mulder, Jan van Maarseveen, Gerben Moerman, Sander Bais, Peter Starreveld, Mathieu de Bakker and Maria Bonaria Urban.