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Our year on social media

It’s been a turbulent, bizarre and extraordinary year, 2020. Coronavirus turned the lives of everyone at our University upside down. Out teaching, research and all the events that are held in a year: nothing was the same as before. That this affected all of us is clear from the highlights and many reactions to our social media accounts this year. Thanks to everyone who followed – and stayed in touch with – us during this strange time!

445th Dies Natalis

Back when everything was still normal, on 7 February, we celebrated our 445th birthday. A special day full of traditions: a ceremony in Pieterskerk and of course the procession of professors!

Words of encouragement from our Rector

Just a month later everything had changed. From one day to the next we could no longer come to the University for our teaching, research and work. In a series of personal video messages, Rector Carel Stolker had a few words of encouragement for us all. Like this message from his study at home – even rectors had to work from home, after all. 

Online PhD defence

Not only did all the teaching have to move online, but there also had to be a corona-proof version of all sorts of events. Like defending your thesis, which PhD candidates normally do in the Academy Building, surrounded by colleagues, family and friends. 

Distanced introductions

The introduction weeks for new students in Leiden and The Hague were almost completely online. For one day only, were the brand-new students allowed to come to their new city, to get to know the University, its buildings and their fellow students. All at a distance of 1.5 metres of course.

Coronavirus research

Our researchers turned their attention to the coronavirus pandemic, and began the hunt for solutions. Here an E-nose that detects particles in the air that people have exhaled and gives a result within seconds.


And with the #wakeuptocorona crowdfunding campaign we raised over a million euros for Professor Eric Snijder and his team, who are doing research at the LUMC into coronaviruses and antivirals.

Lily the Hortus cat

Luckily some things never change. Animals are social media gold! On International Cat Day Lily the Hortus cat was the star of our Instagram account.

LU Pride

The Progress Pride flag hung proud on our Academy Building on Coming Out Day. At Leiden University everyone can be themselves, and we continue to do all we can to make sure that our students and staff feel at home in our university community.


Many countries closed their borders. That posed a dilemma for international students in Leiden: Do I carry on studying here or do I return home to be with my family – not knowing when I’ll be able to come back to Leiden again? And many Leiden students had to drop everything and rush home, or saw their plans to go abroad go up in smoke.

Baby visit via Teams

We asked our staff how it had been to switch to working from home or teaching online. And what had helped them in these difficult times.

Upside down

And luckily there were a few laughs along the way: even our rector struggles with working from home every now and then! 

Stay healthy – physically and mentally

It’s been a turbulent year and we as a university community have faced enormous challenges. And the crisis isn’t over yet, but will continue to affect our work and study for some time to come. With the new year in sight, however, we hope there will also be some light at the end of the tunnel and that we’ll be able to meet up old style – and safely – at our University once again. And remember we’re there for you if you need help or mental support.

Support for students

Support for staff

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