Universiteit Leiden

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Jasper’s day

Jasper Knoester is the dean of the Faculty of Science. How is he doing? What kinds of things is he doing and what does his day look like? In each newsletter Jasper gives a peek into his life as dean.

Monday 30 October

My first appointment has been cancelled, resulting in a calm start to the week. I handle a few minor tasks at home and leave for Leiden at ten o'clock. The first agenda item is immediately a treat. There is a reception at the Academy Building for a delegation from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I visited there last May with a Leiden delegation led by President Annetje Ottow. Following an informal gathering, the formal segment begins with speeches and a signing ceremony.

This is a significant opportunity for us, as I will sign an agreement to establish a zebrafish laboratory facility at UGM with support from our faculty. Researchers from our faculty will also be welcome there. UGM has built a new building for this purpose, which we had the chance to admire in May. This facility, resembling our own zebrafish laboratory, allows for close collaboration, wherein, for instance, PhD candidates can work part of their time in Yogyakarta and part in Leiden. We will establish a joint PhD programme between both institutions. The exciting aspect is that three institutes already shared their interest in this collaboration: LACDR, LIACS, and IBL, where Herman Spaink laid the basis for this collaboration.

After the signing ceremony, there is an informal discussion and a lunch. It’s a meeting filled with energy. In a time when internationalisation is unfortunately often under pressure, this is a true celebration of positivity and recognising opportunities.

I stay at the Academy Building. With the Faculty Board and some colleagues from the faculty office, we review last week’s Board Conference on Recognition and Appreciation and discuss the next steps within the Faculty. We conclude that it was a successful meeting, laying a good foundation for future steps. We will focus on two tracks: firstly, adapting our career model for academic staff. Secondly, exploring what is already available and what might be desirable to provide more opportunities and incentives for our support staff to keep developing themselves.

As a board, we continue the afternoon with a meeting with the Faculty Council in our familiar building. The composition of the council has changed considerably after the summer, meaning we need some time to get acquainted with each other again. With significant strategic matters on the agenda for the upcoming year, discussions will be intensive. However, the constructive atmosphere in today’s meeting gives us confidence that we can accomplish great things together for the Faculty.

‘From the exercise bike, I exchange a few photos from the visit with Annetje.’

After a brief final meeting in my office, I quickly head home, where I cook and have dinner with the children. Xuefei is abroad, and Kamiel has his basketball training, so there’s pressure to put a meal on the table quickly, but everything turns out fine. At 9 o’clock, I find the peace and quiet to do some exercise myself. From the exercise bike, I exchange a few photos and impressions with Annetje from the session with UGM that started the day. It was once again a beautiful day, one that I peacefully conclude at home, glancing at the newspaper and offering some homework assistance.’

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