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.

Monday 21 August

‘I wake up at 6am and decide there is enough to do to just get up. For the first time in 3 weeks, I am going to the Faculty in Leiden and for the first time in over 3 weeks, there are children to look after in the morning. I picked them up from Schiphol yesterday, after a long flight from Shanghai where they spent the summer with my wife Xuefei, their grandparents, aunt and cousin. It was the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak, so it was about time to go there again. They had a great summer, but are also happy to be back home. Xuefei will also return in a week.

I would have loved to go with them to China, of course, but when we heard that there was finally a contractor who could do the much-needed renovation to our house, the decision was made quickly: I would stay at home this summer to oversee and make decisions where necessary. That turned out to be an interesting and intense summer. It felt like I handled tonnes of dust, despite all the dust locks that had been set up in the house. It was good that I was alone, with the limited number of rooms accessible. In between meddling with the work, I spent my time useful and in a fun way. Working hard on some publications, consulting with PhD students and extensively commenting on a dissertation manuscript in the group. In between there were some occasional board matters, but it was quite calm on that front. Fortunately, no crises! To relax, I watched  movies once in a while and went to the pool daily to swim lengths for an hour. In any case, it was different than usual and I think that is the essence of holidays.

But so today it's back to normal and that's good too. I am rested and looking forward to the new year. The children are also up early, due to the jet lag. We have breakfast, I meet the contractor and we go through everything that needs to happen today. Then the trip to Leiden, where it is good to greet colleagues in the Faculty Office again. We exchange summer experiences and everyone is full of energy.

I watched  movies once in a while and went to the pool daily.

The rest of the day proceeds at a normal pace of meetings, starting with the agenda meeting with Carey: what's ahead in the coming weeks and how do we fit everything in? The files that were there before the recess are quickly coming back to life. This week, there are already important consultations on the multi-year budget and the administrative transition and these need to be prepared. Suzanne is working hard to write the notes on the budget. What an entrance, the first day. We talk about it briefly, tonight I can read the result. At the end of the afternoon we have an agenda meeting with Lucy, the chair of the Faculty Council. Next week will be the last meeting with the council in this composition. And a very important one, where we are going to ask for approval on the multi-year budget and the Faculty Strategic Plan. We quickly agreed on the agenda; hopefully we will also agree on the content next week as quickly.

I rush home, where the children, obviously still suffering from jet lag, are in dire need of food. Together with Jasmijn I cook and during the meal I hear about the first day of school. After dinner, I make a quick tour to see how the work on our back facade is progressing, after which I prepare for tomorrow's day: the first board meeting, the year is really starting. I still find an hour to swim, I can't give up that summer rhythm just yet. But other than that, it already feels like a normal week and I think that's quite a good sign. Bring it on, new academic year!’

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