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.

Tuesday 12 December

‘In a cheerful mood, I cycle to the station. It is not raining, there is little wind and the temperature is comfortably cool. Almost the shortest day of the year and thoughts of spring are already coming to mind. First, thankfully, the ski season, which starts for our family in 12 days on the overnight train to Innsbruck. On the crowded morning train to Leiden, that makes me feel happy.

Today's board meeting has a wide variety of topics. To conclude, we discuss at length the introduction of the new governance model in the faculty and the reorganisation involved. We are in an important phase, where decisions have to be taken on a weekly basis. This also requires good communication with relevant staff in the institutes and the staff section of the Faculty Council. Tomorrow there is another important information session, in which we obviously hope to receive useful feedback.

In the afternoon, we discuss a possible investment in the faculty, to be decided this year. A godsend, but a costly one and the time constraints do not make it any easier. Still a lot to do before Christmas, hopefully with a nice ending. Next up is a working meeting with Carey where we go over the agenda for the near future and a meeting with Elice (head of HR) and José (research policy officer) on gender policy. This is part of broader diversity policy, which many institutes are also actively working on. We are lucky to have the RISE network in the faculty that connects female staff and provides a platform. But there is still much room for improvement and we discuss which actions deserve special attention.

At 16.00 hrs, I happily announce the first version of Tuesday Talks: Science Insights. This is the much-needed successor to This Week's Discoveries, a meeting with a science talk, open to the entire faculty. These sessions were slowly lost in corona time, and during conversations about the strategic plan, many people asked for a relaunch. So this afternoon, that has become a reality. For now, we will do it monthly in the Atrium of the Gorlaeus building. After the opening of the new building, we will consider the best location. The format: short announcements from the faculty board, an academic story and, for dessert, drinks. The objective is to connect and stimulate curiosity. I am very happy about it!

Speaking this afternoon is Michel Mandjes, professor of Probability and Operations Research at the Mathematics Institute since 1 September. Michel is a globally recognised expert on complex networks with stochastic properties, a subject that has numerous applications, in science and everyday life. He shares his fascination with this field and indicates where the major challenges lie for the future. He also invites the audience to get in touch if they see or want to explore opportunities for collaboration. Complex Networks was chosen as one of the faculty themes in our strategic plan and already has a tradition of collaboration, including across faculty boundaries. It is therefore a wonderful boost to this theme that Michel has joined our faculty.

After the vibrant drinks, I head to the academy building, where I have an end-of-year dinner with the WDs and José. It is good to meet occasionally in a very relaxed atmosphere. Of course, even during such a dinner, the conversation is partly about matters that concern us within the university. As far as I am concerned, it is a very successful occasion.

Back home, I catch up with the kids. I prepare for tomorrow's information meeting on the reorganisation, read a few more papers and help with some chemistry homework. It's the last stretch before Christmas for everyone. And then off to the snow and skiing. Good prospect.’

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