Universiteit Leiden

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University ceremony

Dies Natalis 2023

Wednesday 8 February 2023
Pieterskerkhof 1A

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The Dies lectures will be delivered by Marlou Schrover, Professor of Migration History, and Ionica Smeets, Professor of  Science Communication, after which a panel will reflect further on the theme of this Dies: the value of science. During the ceremony, the work of Arabist Beatrice Gründler and virologist Marc van Ranst will be recognised with honorary doctorates. The programme will also include performances by Russian top cellist Maya Fridman. 

Translation and livestream

Unfortunately, there are no more seats available in the Pieterskerk, but on 8 February the entire ceremony will be livestreamed from 14:45. A simultaneous translation of the ceremony will be available in English . 

  • Entrance of processions
  • Opening speech by Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl
  • Dies speech by Ionica Smeets, Professor of  Science Communication
  • Dies speech by Marlou Schrover, Professor of Migration History
  • Panel discussion in which panelists reflect on the theme of the dies: Value of science
  • Musical interlude with cellist Maya Fridman, PhD candidate at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts
  • Conferral of an honorary doctorate on Arabist Beatrice Gründler
  • Conferral of an honorary doctorate on virologist Marc van Ranst
  • Musical interlude
  • Speech by the Rector Magnificus
  • Wilhelmus
  • Hester Bijl Rector Magnificus

    Hester Bijl is Professor of Numerical Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the Faculty of Science. She is also a member of the Supervisory Board of TNO and commissioner of Impuls Zeeland, the Regional Development Agency. Bijl is also a board member of the Leiden Bio Science Park. 

    Hester Bijl studied Applied Mathematics at Delft University of Technology, where she also obtained a PhD in numerical mathematics in 1999. She also obtained a master's degree in English Language and Literature from Leiden University. For her research on applications of numerical fluid dynamics in aerospace and wind energy technology, she received, among other things, person-oriented grants from NWO. She was a member of the first cohort of the Young Academy of the KNAW and also served on its board. From 1999 to 2003, she was a visiting researcher at NASA Langley Research Center for several periods.

    Before coming to Leiden in 2016, where she was appointed vice-rector magnificus, Bijl spent 17 years at Delft University of Technology's Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, where she eventually held the position of dean.

  • Marlou Schrover Professor of Migration History

    Marlou Schrover is a full professor of Migration History, as well as a LDE professor of Governance of Migration and Diversity at Erasmus University. She is the recipient of NWO Veni, Vici and NWA grant. Currently, she heads a major research project into the dilemmas of doing diversity. This projects zooms in on how policies aimed at class, gender, ethnicity, religion, ability/disability and sexuality are realized. It involves the interdisciplinary cooperation of 37 partners (including social organisations and ministeries). She gives public lectures on migration and integration and interviews to TV, radio and newspapers.

  • Ionica Smeets Professor Science communication

    Ionica Smeets is professor of Science Communication. She is chair of Leiden University's research group Science Communication and Society and teaches in the master specialization Science Communication and Society. Her main research interest in science communication is the gap between experts and the general public. What problems occur when those groups communicate? And what can scientists do about those problems?

    Smeets is currently coordinator of a new national centre for science communication. She also writes columns for the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant and makes photo comics for the popular science magazine New Scientist with Ype Driessen. She presents popular science television shows, writes books and occasionally gives lectures.

Honorary doctor

  • Beatrice Gründler
    Beatrice Gründler Professor of Arabic Language and LIterature Freie Universität Berlin

    Beatrice Gründler studied Arabic, Semitic languages and Assyriology at the universities of Strasbourg and Tübingen and received a PhD from Harvard University in Near Eastern Studies in 1995. She worked at Dartmouth College and Yale University before being appointed Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Freie Universität Berlin in 2014.

    Stories have been shared over time, from India via the Middle East to Europe, taking on new meanings, forms, uses and expressions. These literary-cultural transformations not only confirm the universal needs that these stories meet but also show how ideas are shaped locally in their own new contexts. Gründler offers insight into these processes, revealing the dynamics of Arab-Persian literary culture and, at the same time, its connection to surrounding areas.

    Gründler was President of the American Oriental Society. She has received important awards for her work, including the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Preis from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, both of which she received in 2017. The Arabic translation of her work and the numerous invitations she received to teach and lecture in the Middle East demonstrate how her work also has an impact on the Arab world.

Honorary promoter

  • Petra Sijpesteijn Pofessor of Arabic

    Petra Sijpesteijn is Pofessor of Arabic. Her research concentrates on recovering the experiences of Muslims and non-Muslims living under Islamic rule, using the vast stores of radically under-used documents surviving from the early Islamic world. Starting in 2017, she manages an international research project entitled "Embedding Conquest: Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600-1000)", funded by the European Research Council.


  • Mark Rutgers Professor Social Philosophy

    Mark Rutgers studied Philosophy at Leiden University, where he later obtained a PhD on the topic of Public Administration as a knowledge-integrating discipline. He subsequently held the Chair in Public Administration, specifically in philosophy and ethics of public administration. In 2010, he transferred to the University of Amsterdam, where he gained broad administrative experience in various university and NWO committees. He also headed the NWO pioneer project 'The Renaissance of Public Administration’. Rutgers has been dean of the Leiden Faculty of Humanities since 1 March 2017.

Honorary doctor

  • Marc van Ranst Hoogleraar Virologie KU Leuven

    Prof. Dr. Marc Van Ranst (1965) completed his medical education at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, after which he worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York for four years. He earned his PhD in Virology in 1994 and became a specialist in Clinical Biology four years later. Since 1999, he has been a professor of Virology at the Catholic University of Leuven, where he currently teaches virology to medical students. He is also the head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University Hospitals Leuven. He has held various leadership roles, such as a member of the Board of Directors of the University Hospitals Leuven and as the chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Catholic University of Leuven. Additionally, since 1995 he has also been affiliated with the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Charles University in Prague, where he teaches bioinformatics.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Ranst served on various advisory boards that provided advice to Belgian health authorities on how to combat the virus and made predictions about its development and spread in Belgium. In this role, he had many public appearances, which earned him not only praise but also negative attention from people who opposed the COVID-19 measures. To date, Van Ranst continues to receive threats from these groups and from far-right circles.

Honrary promoter

  • Frits Rosendaal Professor Clinical Epidemiology

    Frits Rosendaal is professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Centre. He researches the causes of cardiovascular disease and was one of the discoverers of  Factor V Leiden. During the Covid pandemic he headed various committees that advised the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the academic medical centres. He initiated research into Covid-19 and often contributed to newspaper articles and radio and television shows to shed further light on this. In 2003 he received the Spinoza prize for his research into thrombosis. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), of the German Akademie Leopoldina and of the Academia Europaea. In 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of the University of Paris Descartes.


  • Maya Fridman Cellist and PhD candidate

    Maya Fridman (Moscow, 1989) studied with Dmitri Ferschtman at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she obtained her master’s degree with the maximum grade of 10, and a distinction. She is a versatile cellist, and is known in the music world as one of the most talented cellists of the present day. Her research at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts focuses on the performance practices of music explicitly linked by its composers to (religious) rituals or (contemporary) spirituality. Such a background underlying a performer’s compositions and the context of the performance calls for very special attributes. The documentary United We Stand, Musicians in Times of War, which follows a project in which she brings Russian and Ukrainian musicians together to raise money for Ukraine through benefit concerts, for example, can now be seen at cinemas in the Netherlands.

  • Hannelore van Es Pianist

    Hannelore van Es (2001) has played the piano since the age of six. She took lessons from Juliette van Capelleveen and played for three years in the talent class at Schools of the Arts in Amersfoort. She has been following the Practicum Musicae Classical Piano course since 2020, taking lessons from Sepp Grotenhuis, and also enjoys teaching young children to play the piano. Van Es is in the third year of a psychology degree at Leiden University and hopes to start the Master’s in Clinical Psychology next year.


    Practicum Musicae

    Practicum Musicae is a unique talent development programme that offers multi-talented university students the chance to develop to a high musical level as well. For three years the students take courses at the Conservatoire alongside a university degree in Leiden. The programme is offered by the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA), a partnership between Leiden University and the University of the Arts The Hague.

  • Jan Willem Beaujean Director-General of the Agricultural Transition Project Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality

    Jan Willem Beaujean studied Law in Utrecht and Brest and at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration in Strasbourg. His roles have included Director of Consular Affairs and Visa Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Director-General of Immigration Affairs at the Ministry of Security and Justice, Deputy Head of Mission the Dutch Embassy in Paris and Executive Director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan, Afghanistan, for the NATO-led ISAF mission. From 2020-2022 he was Director-General for Migration at the Ministry of Justice and Security. He is currently Director-General of the Agricultural Transition Project at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

  • Amito Haarhuis Director National Museum Boerhaave

    Amito Haarhuis is the director of the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, the national museum of science and medicine. He has devoted his career as a teacher of science and technology, author, television presenter and museum director to science education and communication. During his time as deputy director and interim director of the NEMO Science Museum, he was the driving force behind the extensive and challenging transformation of the museum, updating it to a 21st-century context. He has been director of the Boerhaave Museum since 1 April 2018. The museum received the European Museum of the Year Award in 2019 for its completely revamped presentation concept. Haarhuis is also a columnist for De Telegraaf’s science section.

  • Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee Director The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP)

    Professor Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee is a personality and organisational psychologist who has been the director of The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) since 1 October 2022. During her academic career she has held various administrative roles, including as vice-rector and dean at VU Amsterdam, and since 2001 has held chairs in her discipline at the University of Groningen and VU Amsterdam. She has earned an international reputation as an academic for her research into intercultural competence and managing cultural diversity in organisations, and has advised several organisations, including the Rijksmuseum, about diversity management.

  • Pieter Slaman Assistant professor, moderator

    Pieter Slaman is a university historian at Leiden University and is researching the history of teaching and research in the Netherlands. His PhD was on the history of student funding and he was the lead author of the volume In de regel vrij. 100 jaar politiek rond onderwijs, cultuur en wetenschap, which was published to mark the centenary of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. De glazen toren, on the history of Leiden University from 1970 to 2020, was published in 2021. He is also an assistant professor at the Institute for History, where he lectures on political history, education and university history.

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