Former dean and pro-rector Jasper Knoester awarded royal honour

Jasper Knoester, former dean at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) and pro-rector at the UG, was named a Knight in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands. He had been nominated by the university.

He was given the honour during his official farewell ceremony at the university. Knoester started a new job as the dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Leiden on January 1. 


For years, Knoester was professor of the theory of condensed matter at the UG. He became the FSE dean in 2010. He had also been the pro-rector, the substitute rector magnificus, since the previous board of directors was in charge. 

The university said that Knoester is ‘a multi-talented pioneer and a visionary and unifying administrator, [whose] exceptional leadership raised the faculty to a world-class level’.

It was under his watchful eye that FSE became the first science faculty in the Netherlands with ten bachelor programmes in English. This decision doubled the number of students at FSE over the next decade; from 3,500 in 2021 to 7,000 in 2021.

International ambitions

With an eye towards international expansion, Knoester was a proponent of the plans to build a branch campus in the Chinese city of Yantai. He was closely involved in the development of the plans and went to China several times. He was disappointed when, after years of debate, the plans were ultimately cancelled.

His dreams for a Yantai branch campus weren’t his only international ambitions. He worked closely together with large universities around the world in an effort to contribute to major scientific and social problems such as the climate crisis. 

Thanks to his efforts, approximately 120 international double PhD programmes have been started at FSE since 2013. These programmes emphasise international collaboration, enabling scientists to set up research projects with international colleagues. 

Internal innovations

In addition to his international ambitions, Knoester also delivered many internal innovations for the university. As professor, he was involved in the implementation of the tenure-track career policy. This track provided every scientist with the opportunity to grow into a full professor over the course of ten years’ time.

As dean, he strengthened and modernised this policy, for instance by prioritising the position of women within the traditionally masculine faculty. He strove to achieve an equal distribution of jobs among men and women.

In part due to the thirty Rosalind Franklin Fellowships at his faculty, a programme aimed specifically at top female scientists, the number of women at the top in FSE is continually increasing. According to the university, the Groningen science faculty has more female professors than any other Dutch science faculty.


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