It is with great sadness that we learned that Cor Baayen, first president and co-founder of ERCIM, passed away on Wednesday, 22 May 2019. Baayen served as ERCIM president from 1991 to 1994. He was scientific director of CWI from 1980 to 1994. During this period, he played a key role in shaping computer science as a distinct scientific field. Under his leadership CWI transformed from a mathematical institute to a centre of expertise for both mathematics and computer science. Together with Alain Bensoussan from Inria and Gerhard Seegmüller from the former GMD, he founded ERCIM in 1989 with the aim of building a European scientific community in information technology.
Baayen started his first tenure at CWI in 1959, when it was still named Mathematisch Centrum (MC). He was appointed leader of the pure mathematics group at MC in 1965, as well as professor of mathematics at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. When Baayen became scientific director in 1980, he immediately had to deal with diminishing funds for academic research. One of the most notable strategies to secure MC’s future, was to incorporate the institute in the first Dutch national ICT funding scheme. This fitted perfectly with a broadening of the institute’s focus towards computer science. A milestone in this
transformation is the renaming of the institute to CWI (Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica, comprising informatics) in 1983.
Cor Baayen will be remembered as one of the founders of ERCIM. The consortium grew out to become Europe’s most ambitious association in this field, with currently 16 member institutes. ERCIM honours Baayen’s legacy with its annual Cor Baayen Young Researcher Award for promising young researchers in computer science or applied mathematics.