Interview new Dean LUC: "Work hard, have fun, make a difference!"

From 1 July on prof. dr. Judi Mesman will be the new Dean of Leiden University College (LUC). Mesman is professor of Diversity in Parenting and Development and scientific director of the Institute of Education and Child Studies. Are you curious about her plans for the University College, or would you like to know what her biggest dream is and from what she learned most? You will read it here

1. You are switching from Education and Child Studies to the University College. Why this choice?

After 15 years at Education and Child Studies I was ready for a change. These last few years, I have been focusing more and more on social themes that go beyond child care (such as gender equality, relations between various population groups) and I wanted to do something with these broad interests. When I heard that they were looking for a new dean for LUC, I first checked the website for the objectives and the programme of LUC. And that immediately made me very enthusiastic. The theme of global challenges really appeals to me, as well as the international character of the college (students and staff) and the intensive educational formula. In fact, I would have loved to subscribe as a student, because the subjects all seem very interesting to me! And it seemed to me that the staff who teach this beautiful multidisciplinary programme are a very nice group of people to work with.

2. What do you think LUC will offer you?

A more varying staff- and student population than what I am used to and that will offer many opportunities for new insights and possibilities to look at subjects from various perspectives. That is always very informative and inspiring.

3. And the other way round: what do you think you have to offer to LUC?

I hope to contribute to education by embedding the subject of youth. As I always say: almost every big social challenge starts in essence with youth. I would like to contribute to the LUC-programme as a teacher on this subject. Besides, together with the staff I would like to think about the possibilities to give research a bit more space in LUC, and of course I will listen carefully to what the staff indicates they will need from a new dean.

4. What are your plans for LUC?

First I want to get to know the LUC (staff and students) before I will develop new plans. I will be new and the people who have been there longer will have many good ideas. I cannot really judge what would be good for LUC until I will have somewhat more experience there.

5. What is your opinion about the different nature of LUC when compared to the rest of the university?

As I said, I was ready for a new working environment and if anything was made clear to me, it is that LUC is really different from what I am used to. I am very much looking forward to that!

6. People often talk about “the LUC Bubble”. What do you think of that?

Yes, I heard about it. I think I have to experience that before I can say anything about it. However, I understood that there are many good initiatives to step out of the bubble and that these initiatives get a very positive response!

7. LUC offers extra challenges for excellent students. What is your motivation to belong to the top?

For me that is not a motivation in itself. I just find o lot of things interesting and fun to do, and that is why I always take up many different tasks which mostly just give me more energy. It is a nice bonus that my work is appreciated in my own organisation and in the scientific world.

8. Where did you learn most?

Many different experiences teach you many different things. There is not one experience that I can label as one from which I learned most. Doing research is always very instructive, leading an institute with 180 staff members is very instructive, but raising three children and volunteering in receiving refugees are also among the important experiences that taught me a lot. What the most instructive experiences have in common is that they teach you something about the huge diversity in people and human behavior and how this diversity is determined by the background and present circumstances of persons as well. This interest in human behavior and their motivations was the reason for my choice for behavioral sciences that I made as a student.

9. What is your biggest dream, what would you like to achieve?

I do not have one big dream. I am very pleased with the prospect of a new inspiring function in which I will get the chance to do what I like most (in random order): education, research and contributing to a pleasant and productive working climate.

10. What wise lesson would you teach your students?

Work hard, have fun, make a difference!

Last Modified: 14-06-2016