In great sadness and sorrow, we have to inform you that our beloved and inspiring mentor, colleague and friend Eric Broekaert has passed away (1951-2016)
Eric Broekaert fruitfully and successfully developed “Orthopedagogiek” (Special Needs Education) at Ghent University and – for many years – he was the chairman of the Department of Special Needs Education. Professor Broekaert was an very inspiring and enthusiastic teacher who introduced many students and colleagues in his integrative, holistic and action-oriented theory on special needs education. He was the founder of the drug-free therapeutic community De Kiem and he was an internationally renowned expert in the field of therapeutic communities and the treatment of substance abusers. He was one of the founders and the first president of the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities (EFTC). In 2015, he received the EFTC-award for his extraordinary contribution to the development of and research on therapeutic communities. Eric was the chairman of the Orthopedagogical Centre ‘Nieuwe Vaart’ for support to children with emotional and behavioural disorders and he was a member of the management board of the European Scientific Association for Residential and Foster Care (EUSARF) and of the Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations (CCVS).
Under his leadership, the department of Special Needs Education flourished and developed into a research group of international standards. Eric advocated for the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods and for “the alternative going together” of a diversity of theories and paradigms, always focused on improving the living situation of children, adolescents and adults in vulnerable situations. He was a convinced proponent of international and inter-disciplinary cooperation.
Eric Broekaert passed away on 28 September 2016 in a hospital in Rome, where he gave a keynote lecture some days earlier at the 25th EWODOR-congress (European Workshop on Drug Policy Oriented Research).
We lose a warm, charismatic and well-read personality, but above all, a brilliant mind and scientist. We will truly miss you, Eric !
We would like to extend our sincere condolences to his wife Kathy, his children Pieter-Jan and Rilke and the other members of his family and we wish them strength and courage to cope with this great loss.
On behalf of all the colleagues of the Department of Special Needs Education