Typewriters and mail cars: more than 40 years of working at the university

The White House in Rotterdam's Old Harbour.
Lecture in Theil Building in the 1990s.
Lecture in Theil Building in the 1990s.

Marjolein Kooistra and Jan de Leeuw have both worked at our university for more than 40 years. As part of the 22nd lustrum, these colleagues look back and talk about what has changed. "The campus keeps you young," says Jan.

Driver in the university mailroom. That's how Jan entered EUR in 1983. "I am originally an electrician. But in the early 1980s there was great unemployment. I tackled everything that came my way. And that led to the university."

Jan de Leeuw on the Plaza.
Jan de Leeuw on the Plaza.
Maggie Chen

Begging for more work

Jan drove every day in a mail car from the post office to the various EUR locations in the city. But that got boring: "I wasn't allowed to do more than drive around. I had to fill 8 hours with that. Within 2 hours I was done. The rest of the time I was reading a book. At some point I wanted to do more. After 2 months of pushing, I was given additional jobs. When the original driver came back from sick leave, he was not happy. He was given all sorts of tasks. I made no friends," Jan laughs.

See what vacancies we have right now

Tennis courts moved with helicopters

Jan has seen the campus change since 1983. "The tennis courts were first on the place of F and G Building. These had to give way to the new buildings. The predecessor of Erasmus Magazine had a fun April 1 joke. On April 1, 2 large helicopters would come to lift the tennis courts and move them to where they are now. Very coincidentally, a large helicopter flew over the campus on that very day. It was full of people who came to watch. But of course nothing happened at all."

Bookstore Donner on campus in 1991.
Bookstore Donner on campus in 1991.

Singing with colleagues

Did you know there was once an employee choir? Jan sang in it. It was a shanty choir that performed every year at the Opening Academic Year. "We stood on stage singing the Io Vivat ad nauseum. When all the professors were inside we were allowed to stop. Singing together was always very enjoyable. But at one point it was more like a former employee choir. That's why it finally stopped."

Memories of lustra

A carnival on campus and big parties: Jan has fond memories of previous lustra. "Around the year 2000, we ate at big beer tables on campus. Students and staff sat together cozily. This lustrum, the Heartbeat Festival is coming back. The band Kensington came once. At that time they were emerging. Now they can't be afforded."

Jan de Leeuw poses in front of Sanders Building.

"The university exudes youthfulness. A lot is happening and there is always commotion"

Jan de Leeuw

Functional Administrator

Doesn't working for the same organization get boring after 40 years? "I've been working as a functional administrator since 2000. And I still see a lot of challenge in my work. The atmosphere is good anyway. The university exudes youthfulness. In the EDIS department you don't come into contact with students much, but you do notice that it is a young environment. A lot happens and there is always commotion."

Typewriters and floppy disks

Marjolein Kooistra now works as a communications consultant and press officer at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB). But in 1982 she started in a very different place. "I started as a librarian-documentalist. I was helping set up a new library at Hoboken for the newly started General Health Studies program (which is now ESHPM). In the 1980s, libraries were ahead of the curve in terms of digitization and automation. Building catalogs and databases was my job. Through the economics faculty, I joined ESSB (then FSW) on January 1, 1990, and I'm still there today."

Marjolein Kooistra in the middle wearing a red dress during the Opening Academic Year 2015.
Marjolein Kooistra in the middle during the Opening Academic Year 2015.

A lot has changed on campus in 40 years. Marjolein immediately thinks of the transition to computers and later the Internet. "At the time I came here, the Internet didn't exist. I worked on an electric typewriter. That was already an insane advance compared to old-fashioned typewriters. The faculty did have a network of terminals connected to the mainframe of the computer center. On that I made my first computerized catalog."

"Later I got my first personal computer to work on. If you wanted to start a word processing program you first had to insert a floppy disk. The program was on that. And save your text? Then you had to insert an empty floppy disk and save your text on it. Such a different time," says Marjolein.

Marjolein Kooistra in her office in 2007.
Marjolein Kooistra in her office in 2007.

Back from vacation for lustrum

Marjolein shows a folder of old documents. Stationery from 75 years of EUR, an evaluation of 90 years of EUR and a communication plan for 100 years of EUR. For the 100-year anniversary, Marjolein even had to come back from her vacation. "We had to think about what we were going to do with the lustrum," she said.

Other lustrum years were usually a little quieter. For Marjolein, a lustrum year is always special. And not just the university's, but also the faculty's. ESSB is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. "It's like your birthday. Some years are more lavish than others. It's a way to give extra attention to yourself."

Explore our 110th anniversary this year

"During a strong storm, a large part of the roof blew off"

Marjolein Kooistra

Press officer and communications consultant

Roof blown off

One of the most spectacular things Marjolein has experienced here is when a roof blew off a building. "The Sanders Building site once had barracks housing offices. With a strong storm, a large part of the roof blew off. Fortunately, no one was injured."

You only last 40 years if the workplace is nice. Two aspects of working at our university stand out for Marjolein: autonomy and the work dynamics. "I have a lot of freedom in my work. That's from day 1 and it suits me well. I have always worked within faculties. The direct contact with scientists is special. Especially within our faculty ESSB. We are so involved with social issues. Contributing to that is what I like best."

More information
  • All about working at our university.
  • Our 110th anniversary is in full swing. Check out this year's program.
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