New and familiar faces at Dies for alumni
The Dies Natalis for alumni was held on Saturday 10 February, organised by the Leiden University Fund (LUF) together with the University. Almost 500 alumni came together in the Kamerlingh Onnes building to celebrate the 443rd anniversary of the foundation of their alma mater.
The afternoon opened with the presentation of the 2018 Leiden University Thesis Prizes, awarded by Minerva alumni 1957/1961/1965. Louise Verboeket (Law) was the happy winner of the first prize for her thesis entitled 'De publieke prijs: Een onderzoek naar de verdeling van publiek geld via prijsvragen' ('The Public Prize: A study of the distribution of public funds by means of competitions'). She was presented with the award by Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker. A more detailed report on the thesis prizes can be found on the LUF website.
Back to the classroom
After lunch the alumni made their way to the different lectures where enthusiastic Leiden scholars informed them about current research findings and developments in their different fields. Bernard Steunenberg, for example, talked about air quality in Europe. 'There's no passport for clean or polluted air,' he stated. 'That's why effective policy in this field is so important.'
There was also room for talented young researchers at the Dies for alumni. Two young Veni winners talked about their research that was made possible by the LUF. Jasper van der Steen gave a fascinating insight into the dynastic self-representation of the Nassau family between 1550 and 1815. To preserve their position of power they were at times not averse to fabricating genealogies. Jasper is now conducting further research on the friction between self-interest and family interests within this dynasty. The second Veni winner, Stephanie Rap, is currently in the early stages of her research on the right of under-age asylum-seekers to be heard. With funding from the LUF, she will develop a set of guidelines for professionals in the field on the treatment of children in asylum processes.
A full programme
The alumni also had the opportunity to attend lectures on diagnosing cancer, criminal law procedures in the European Union, historical disasters and literature as a survival mechanism. These lectures generated enthusiastic reactions. Mr and Mrs Van Alphen from Eindhoven have been coming to the alumni Dies for many years. 'It's the lectures outside your own field that make the day so interesting,' Mr Van Alphen, himself a physicist, explained. 'We come back every year for these high-level presentations.'
'A great day! Definitely keep the programme for young alumni!' This is what alumni Maria wrote in the guest book, having attended the separate workshop programme specially for young alumni. These workshops were organised in partnership with the Young Alumni Network (JAN). Some fifty recent graduates learned all about effective persuasion techniques and how to pitch convincingly. Future alumni were also not forgotten: Rogier van Vugt from the Hortus Botanicus took a group of twenty children and grandchildren on an interactive tour of discovery through the amazing world of flesh-eating plants.
The different topics of the lectures were avidly discussed over drinks, but much of the conversation was about sharing memories with fellow students and making new contacts for the future.