Universiteit Leiden

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Patrick Moerland: ‘Just call me Patrick’

One of the familiar faces of our faculty is receptionist Patrick Moerland (39). He has been working for the university for 17 years and is clearly passionate about his work. You can visit him for things like lost property, difficult questions or if you can’t find your way to a lecture hall. Patrick's work, however, is much more than sitting behind a desk.

Social contact

I like talking about my job because I'm having a great time here. I mainly like the reception services, because you get to deal with so many different students, employees and situations. You are the first point of contact as soon as people walk in, and at some point people know who you are. When that happens, it's no longer sir or you, and I tell people: "Go ahead and just call me Patrick". That way you quickly build up a bond with people.

As receptionists, we have morning and evening shifts. We also make closing rounds, which means that the buildings on campus are locked by us. Some people must probably think: that gentleman just sits there all day, securing the place a little, showing people the way, but my job is much more than that. How do you deal, for example, with a student who is suddenly very emotional or stressed because of an exam and comes to your desk? Once we had an employee with a broken heart. I told her: "Hey, don't worry, there are plenty more men in the world!" and she began to laugh. I always try to offer a proverbial shoulder to cry on wherever I can. The next day she came up to my desk and softly said: "Thanks again, for the other day." Yeah, those are the beautiful things that make my job worthwhile.

I feel like a part of this faculty

If I’ve always wanted to do this job? No, no, this wasn’t the plan. It used to be my dream to teach in security. But after working as a doorman at the city hall of Leiden I was able to gain this position, through a security company, and eventually ended up working for the General Services Department (UFB). I guess teaching isn’t a possibility anymore. By now, a lot has changed on the job market and I wonder if I’d be able find a job as nice as this one in the future. I have been working here for 17 years already. One day, a professor came up to me and said, "Well, Pat, I'm going home, it’s a wrap, I'm retiring!". During my time here, I've seen a lot of people come and go.

 ‘I feel like a part of this faculty and students regularly tell me that they like it that I’m always around and that they can have a chat with me every now and then. It’s not like this everywhere. In Lipsius I have my own spot and I feel at home.’

My job keeps me going

‘Keeping busy and having fun at work is what keeps me going. My home life isn’t the easiest. I have a Brazilian wife and two daughters; a five-year-old and a little one of only 3 months. They still live in Brazil. That is very tough and needless to say I miss them very much, but I am working hard to get my family to the Netherlands. That turns out to be quite a hassle, but I’m not giving up. A little while ago I got an invitation for a staff meeting where family could come along. Unfortunately, the invitation was of no use for me, and that's a bummer. But I have a lot of fun with my colleagues; that takes the edge off a bit. We regularly go somewhere together when we have a day off. Or have a nice dinner together. There are plenty of things to enjoy.’

In the Humans of Humanities series, we will do a portrait of one of our researchers, staff members or students, every other week. Who are they, and what do they do? You can find more portraits and information on this page.

Lieselotte van de Ven
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