Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Jasper's Day

On January 1st Jasper Knoester started as our new dean. How is he doing? What exactly does he do? And what does his day look like? In each newsletter Jasper gives a peek into his life as dean.

Wednesday 16 November

'I wake up early and have breakfast while reading the newspaper. My wife Xuefei left for China yesterday, so for the next five weeks the children and I have to keep the house in order ourselves. At least for the first 12 hours, all went well!

'Sometimes happiness can be found in small things.'

When the children are at school, I start my day with answering emails. In the morning, I work from home so I can open the door for the handyman who comes to unclog our kitchen drain. Moving is great, but you have to relearn what can go wrong in the new house and who can come in to help. Luckily, it turns out to be alright. The drain is fully working again and I even got some advice on our hot water system. A satisfying ending to my morning. Sometimes happiness can be found in small things.

The timing is perfect, because in the afternoon I am going to Leuven for a meeting of the Research Strategy Group of Una Europa, an alliance of 11 leading European universities that we are part of since this year. Other partners include Edinburgh, Bologna, Leuven, Helsinki and Krakow. In other words, very good company. The idea is that through intensive cooperation and exchange of good practices, these alliances, of which there currently exist 44, strengthen the European system of higher education institutions on a global scale and provide important nourishment to new initiatives of the European Commission.

On my way there, I prepare the documents, fortunately excellently annotated by Melissa Koops, head of International Affairs at the Rapenburg. I also read with pleasure that Xuefei has arrived well in Shanghai, where she now has to spend the first few days in a quarantine hotel. Fortunately with excellent internet and fine meals on demand, but it won't be easy nonetheless. 

A short walk in Leuven brings me to the meeting. I already know most of the people from a previous meeting in the spring. Nice to see everyone again. Today we have a visit from Stijn Delauré, who gives an interesting presentation on behalf of the European Commission on the European Research Area agenda (ERA). It contains 20 important action points, including many that are also relevant for our faculty: open science, partnerships, academic freedom, strengthening career paths of scientists, research assessment, gender balance, knowledge use in society, et cetera. All topics that will be part of our faculty strategy.

Also important on the ERA agenda is the notion of "widening countries": EU countries that are somewhat more on the periphery and, partly as a result, often have fewer opportunities in European fundraising. There will be new European programmes, in which most of the funds will go to scientists from these countries. Una Europa, led by the Krakow-based Jagiellonian University, has a proposal in development that responds excellently to this instrument and can create a win-win situation for all partners involved. There is much support for the idea, although there is also some concern as to whether the resources provided by the European Commission will be sufficient to create real impact.

On the way back, I talk with Karin Horsman, Director of Strategy and Academic Affairs at our university, and read pieces for tomorrow. An evening meal seems hard to find at the transfer train stations, so it's a good thing the kids have left me some pizza. I explain some maths to Jasmine and make some final preparations for tomorrow, meanwhile noting that the drain is still working fine. How magnificent!'

This website uses cookies.  More information.