Prof. Hans J. A. van Ginkel was born in Kota-Radjah (Bandar Acheh, Indonesia) on June 22, 1940. In l966, he completed his M.Sc. studies at Utrecht University in human and physical geography, anthropology and history, cum laude. His M.Sc. thesis focused on the morphology and functions of Southeast Asian cities in the early 17th century. In l979, he defended his Ph.D. thesis on “Suburbanization and recent residential environments, with a case-study of the Green Heart of the Randstad”, within the social sciences, cum laude as well.
From 1965 to 1968, he was a teacher of geography and history at the Thomas à Kempis College, Arnhem. Ever since he has been active in secondary education as the chair of national committees, in teacher training and in establishing links between secondary schools and universities. From 1988 to 1998 he was Chair of the National Science and Technology Week, a foundation focusing on information to the public, in particular the young, on recent developments in science and technology. In l997, this foundation merged into a larger one, with Prince Claus as the honorary president.
From 1968 to 1985, Hans van Ginkel worked at Utrecht University in the Faculty of Geographical Sciences. In l980, he was appointed full professor in human geography and planning. From 1981-85, he was Dean of Faculty, becoming a member of the Executive Board of the University in 1985, and in 1986 Rector Magnificus. His special fields of interest are urban and regional development, population and housing studies. He was a member — and is now an honorary member — of the Commission on the History of Geographical Thought of the International Geographical Union (IGU), was the Chair of the Organizing Committee of the 28th International Geographical Congress (The Hague, 1996: “Land, Sea and the Human Effort”) and first member and then Board Chair of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (1986-2000).
Prof. van Ginkel has a strong interest in the application of geographical knowledge in society, in particular in urban and regional planning, public housing and housing markets, and public administration. From 1988 to 1993, he was independent Chairman of the Regional Council of Utrecht. He became a Board member of the Utrecht Network for Innovation and Economy (UNIE) in 1994. Prof. van Ginkel was appointed Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Advisory Councils on Science Policy (COS) in 1991 and a member of the National Foresight Committee on Science Policy (1993). From 1994 to 1998, he has been a member of the European Science and Technology Assembly (Bruxelles) and in 1997-1998 member of the National Council for Science and Technology Policy (AWT).
Having a strong interest in internationalization, Hans van Ginkel has contributed to numerous international organizations, for example, the governing board of the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at Enschedé (President 1990-1998), the Board of the European Association of Universities (CRE, Vice-president 1994-1998), and the Board of the International Association of Universities (IAU, Vice-president, 1995-2000, President, 2000-2004). He was the Treasurer of the Netherlands Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) from 1986-1997. He also extended the cooperative links of Utrecht University towards Latin America (in particular, Costa Rica and Bolivia), Southern Africa and South-East Asia.
In 1992, he became a member of the Governing Council of the United Nations University; in 1994 also of UNESCO’s Advisory Group for Higher Education and in 1996, member of the Steering Committee for UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education (Paris, 1998). In this last capacity he prepared and led among others the thematic debate on “Higher Education and Sustainable Human Development”. He was appointed Rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo in 1997.
In 1992, he was appointed to the Social Sciences Council of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Prof. van Ginkel also served as a member and Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology, AIT, Bangkok, as well as a member of the Governing Board of UNESCO-IHE in Delft and of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Social Sciences (ISS), The Hague.
In 1994, he received a Knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands’ Lion from Queen Beatrix. He also holds the highest medals of distinction of the City of Utrecht, the Chamber of Commerce and Utrecht University. In 1997, he received an honorary doctorate from the Universitatea Babes-Bolyai of Cluj in Romania for his work in geography as well as internationalism. In May 2003 he received an honorary doctorate from State University of California (Sacramento). He has also received honorary doctorates from the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana in 2005, the Technical University of Zvolen (Zvolen/Slovakia) in June 2006, and McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, in June 2007. In 2001 he was appointed a member of Academia Europaea. He is also a honorary fellow of ITC.
Hans van Ginkel is married to Bep Teepen. They have two children: son Auke and daughter Mapje.