‘Bringing all these people together – that’s what gives me energy’
Getting to know all his colleagues as fast as possible, and learning about the faculty’s strengths: these will be Jasper Knoester’s first challenges. Jasper became the new Dean of the Faculty of Science on 1 January, and he is optimistic about the corona restrictions. ‘Obviously, this isn’t the start I was hoping for, but I’m going to make the best of it. That means for the time being a lot of meeting people online and doing our utmost together to make 2022 a good year.’
What can we expect from you?
As soon as it’s allowed, I want to meet my new colleagues in person. I want to know who the people are who make up our faculty and what their job involves. This year we’re also going to press ahead with our strategy. The University’s strategic plan will be published shortly, which is a good starting point for formulating our own Science strategy. We’ll be starting that after the summer. My first priority is to get to know the faculty.
What are you most looking forward to?
This is a big faculty, with an enormous number of students and staff, each with their own individual qualities. Bringing all these people together - that’s what gives me energy. What a privilege it is to work at a faculty like this, with so many interesting and highly motivated people. That applies to our scientists and to our support staff. If I can make a contribution to helping them do their work as well as possible, and giving them a sense of connection, the rest will work out fine. That’s where my strength lies, and I’m really enthusiastic about getting down to work.
What do you see as the role of the Faculty Board?
As a board, our role is to facilitate; we’re there to help students and staff to make the most of opportunities, and, together with our staff, to set the direction we want to go in. Our people are what it’s all about. For our students, I hope that higher education will open up again quickly because I’m sincerely concerned about their wellbeing. That’s something we as a board are keeping a very close eye on, and we’ll do whatever we can to give them the support they need.
‘Our people are what it's all about’
For our staff, it’s important that they are happy in their work and that they can focus their energy and creativity on the challenges they’re dealing with. That means that the right personnel policy is very important.’
What makes a good personnel policy?
What’s most important is that we formulate clearly what we expect of staff and what their future prospects are. As well as that, as an organisation you have to recognise and value the diversity of the different talents present in our faculty. Striking the right balance between work and private life is another important issue. It’s not normal to be mailing one another at 11.00 at night, or spending the whole day in meetings. These are things we should be doing less of.
What opportunities do you see for the future?
The coalition agreement offers a lot of possibilities. There is more money available for science, and, don’t forget, Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf is one of us. He was even one of the drivers of the current sector plans in the field of sciences and I can see some excellent opportunities to build on this further in the future. These plans make it possible for us to invest more in our education and research, and to recruit extra people. That will help us reduce the pressure of work, which is another issue that’s high on the agenda for the government as well as for universities.
‘I'm keen to tell everyone about the fantastic things that are happening in our faculty’
What I also believe is important is to give the faculty a stronger presence in the world outside the university, although that’s something of a challenge during a pandemic. Our national and international relations are important and we have to make sure we don’t ignore external opportunities. I’m keen to tell everyone about the fantastic things that are happening in our faculty and showing them how we collaborate with other partners, like the LUMC and companies on the Bio Science Park, but also further afield with national and international partners.
This isn’t a straightforward career move for you. Why did you decide to take this job?
I could have chosen an easier path, that’s true. But this job is a challenge and I like challenges. My aim is to use the experience I have gained earlier in my career to make a difference. There are some fantastic opportunities ahead of us. The world around us is changing rapidly, and as a faculty we can make a significant contribution to this changing world.
And it’s something we have to do together. I hope that people will come and see me to share their ideas or to talk about opportunities they see. Listening to people and together thinking about issues is something I take very seriously. It’s one of the things I enjoy in my work, especially when it gives other people a good experience too.
Text: Christi Waanders, Photo: Monique Shaw