Wouter Tims

In Memoriam






Wouter Tims, 27 July 1930 - 9 May 2010

We must announce with sadness that on May 9th, 2010 Professor Wouter Tims passed away. He was our Director, from the Centre’s creation in 1977 until his retirement in 1995 and held a chair in Development Economics at VU University.

As one of the Centre’s founders and as its first director Professor Tims built up the organization. After obtaining his PhD supervised by Jan Tinbergen, he started his career in development as team leader of the Harvard Group in Pakistan and pursued it at the World Bank, serving closely under vice-president Hollis Chenery and president Robert McNamara. His unrivaled skill at sorting out scattered national statistics to arrive at a clear and consistent analysis of the situation in a particular country helped him moving quickly up the ranks to become director of the Policy Analysis and Projection Department.

Despite his bright career prospects in Washington, Wouter Tims decided to return to the Netherlands, to lead our Centre and gradually became familiar with the complexities of Dutch development cooperation. His efforts paid off, and enabled the Centre to become what it is today.

Many of the Centre’s projects benefited greatly from his experience and the network he had built up, particularly in Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nigeria. He also played a key role in the World Bank’s first economic mission to China.

Besides his research activities, Wouter also served on many committees and councils, providing services for the Ministries, international organizations and NGO’s, acting as chairman of the National Advisory Council for the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation and being member of the board of several development organizations, such as the Royal Tropical Institute, the Evert Vermeer Stichting, and the Triodos Bank. He kept on writing a steady flow of reports for international organizations such as the GATT/WTO, UNDP and the World Bank. He also played a central role in the public debate on development cooperation and food policies, emphasizing the connection between what happens in North and South.

Soon after his retirement in 1995, Wouter suffered from serious illness that prevented him from continuing along his path. He nonetheless found the strength to write his memoires as a narrative, combining personal history and international development, substantiating the remembrance of his rich family life with his wife Nel and his four children.

We will remember him with gratitude, for his friendliness and humor, his sharp insight into development issues and his forceful and lifelong commitment to poverty alleviation.