200 years of Leiden Science: kicking off the lustrum year in style
Music, being together and the impact of science were at the heart of the festive opening of the academic year and the start of the faculty’s 200-year anniversary. The faculty was 200 years old on 2 August 2015. The anniversary was celebrated in style, attended by 500 members of staff and students.
Sing-ins with Gregor Bak
During the first part of the ceremony, Gregor Back, seated at the piano, started off the celebrations on a happy note, both literally and figuratively. He used music and humour to introduce the speakers, Dean Geert de Snoo, Vice-President of the Executive Board Willem te Beest, and the mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink.
Henri Lenferink: ‘The Faculty of Science can be considered to be one of the most important engines for the development of the Leiden Bio Science Park, which is the biggest in the Netherlands and already one of the biggest in Europe. The faculty is a supplier of new ideas that further economic activity in the area. The Faculty of Science also delivers first class bachelors and masters. Society needs these people. People who can help to find new solutions to technical problems, but can also contribute to solutions for the big challenges of mother earth’.
A musical quiz tested the staff and students on their knowledge of the history of the faculty. It brought to light all kinds of facts about the faculty over its 200-year history. For example, that Professor Suringar compensated for his youth with a tall hat, that Professors Lorentz and Kamerlingh Onnes were together just 53 years old when they were appointed, and that the salary of a professor in Leiden was 2,800 guilders a year, much higher than colleagues in Utrecht and Groningen. The ceremony continued with a song composed specially by Bak: ‘We are science’, the motto of the anniversary year.
There is more about the history of the faculty in the past 200 hundred years in the anniversary book ‘From cabinet to science park’. The book was written specially for this anniversary with contributions from Willem Otterspeer, Dirk van Delft and Frans van Lunteren. Van Delft was asked on behalf of the authors what new facts they had discovered about the faculty. His answer was telling. He replied that, provided you do it with panache, you can achieve a lot by complaining. He gave the example of Kaiser, who finally got his new Observatory after he had labelled the instruments that he had received as ‘nice toys’. The first copy of the book was presented to Mayor Lenferink by Dean De Snoo during the ceremony.
The countdown to the official opening was started by the Dean, the Vice-President of the Executive Board and the Mayor. An explosion of orange, blue and silver confetti, representing the faculty, the university and the city, launched the start of the anniversary year.
Partying at the festival site
The party then moved to the courtyard of the Gorlaeus Laboratories, that had been converted into a festival site, with Foodtrucks and mobile bars, performances by ‘the Flamingoes’, wishing angels and a very unusual settee. There was a print stand where visitors could have their photos printed on a fridge magnet, using Instagram and the hashtag #leidenscience200.
A wishing wall
A number of artists recorded their impression of the festive opening in the form of a wishing wall. The wall, a graphic representation of the ceremony, was decorated with birthday wishes from staff and students. There were wish angels in the courtyard to collect the wishes. The wishing wall will be hung in the hall of the Gorlaeus Laboratories.
Science Run for charity
Students and staff could check out whether they were fit enough for the Science Run, the next major event in the faculty’s anniversary year. The Science Run is a competition in the form of a relay race, with teams of four people. The total course of the run is around 22 km. The run is being organised jointly with the Curimmus running club. The money they collect will be donated to the UAF, the Foundation for Refugee Students. The Science Run will take place on Saturday 10 October. Everyone is welcome to take part.