Universiteit Leiden

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Jasper's day

Jasper Knoester is the dean of the Faculty of Science. How is he doing, what exactly does he do and what does his day look like? In each newsletter, Jasper gives an insight into his life.

Friday 30 June

'It is around a quarter past eight when I board the train with Pieter Schipper, head of the Department of Academic Affairs. We are going to Maastricht for the meeting of science deans, preceded by a national meeting on the future of cryo-electron microscopy facilities. It will be a long day of important topics, and we will use part of the trip to prepare the agenda items properly. I will chair both meetings, which is a fun task, but one that requires a lot of attention and energy at this level.

The transfer in Eindhoven brings us together with colleagues from other universities: the road to Maastricht passes this station for most. It is a lovely tradition that we visit different faculties around the country consecutively for the meetings of science deans. One of us acts as host. We meet five times a year, so it takes about two years to do the full tour of the country. Meetings last all afternoon, always take place on Fridays, and invariably end with a communal dinner, after which everyone starts the weekend relaxed. This has led to a tight-knit group where shared responsibility for everyone in science in the Netherlands is felt. As the science domain, this benefits us greatly for diverse topics such as sector plans, career policy, knowledge security, and much more. 

'The delicious Limburg cherry pie is the literal cherry on top of the cake'

This is the first time we are visiting Maastricht. There hasn't been a science faculty here for very long, and partly because of the Covid pandemic, we haven't met here before. For me it is a celebration, because this is my home region. I don't go there often anymore, but there are many wonderful childhood memories that come up as the train heads deeper into Limburg.

Upon arrival at the campus, it is immediately apparent that we are going to be well taken care of. This part of the Netherlands is known for its hospitality and this is evident in the choice of food and drinks that are prepared for the long day. With as literal cherry on top of the cake some delicious Limburg cherry pie with whipped cream. This day can hardly go wrong, even before the meeting has opened. 

The meeting on electron microscopy with four deans and eight experts is very important for Leiden. With NeCEN, our faculty currently manages high-resolution electron microscopy in the country. However, our microscopes are in need of replacement and these devices and their operation are so expensive that this must be organised nationally. In addition to common interests, there are a number of local ones at play in the background, which could make the meeting tense. Fortunately, it turns out to be a very good meeting, in which there is great agreement on the importance of collectivity. We agree to put a task force to work to outline the national vision for the coming years and to think about the business case.

A short but very good lunch is followed by the science deans' meeting. Today, a lot of time has been set aside to consult with NWO Domain Science. An important element is to work together to raise the national profile of the science domain. Other topics include international memberships to major research infrastructures and the relationship between starter and incentive grants and NWO applications. Following this conversation, we devote our attention to teacher training and the monitoring format of current and new sector plans. Good progress has been made on both points. For example, we decide to jointly continue the national lateral entry program B├Ęta4all for teacher education until 2030.

After the meeting, we have a delicious dinner in town, with as always a mixture of business and personal topics. The train ride back is also lively, while on the way home colleagues choose a different path one by one. Finally, at a quarter past eleven, Pieter and I are back together in The Hague. It was a long day but a great success, we conclude.'

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