Carel’s wish: a university for all talent!


After eight inspiring years in which he took on the role of President and Rector Magnificus with his oh so characteristic élan, Carel Stolker will bid farewell to Leiden University on 8 February 2021. To thank him for his years of personal commitment to the University and all who are associated with it, we would like to present him with a gift. Carel has said he would like nothing more than a donation to the Leiden Empowerment Fund (LEF), which supports first-generation students and academics.

This is Carel’s way to help create an academic environment with equal opportunities for all. An environment in which people from different backgrounds and with different qualities inspire and motivate one another. An environment that welcomes all talent (big or small).

First-generation students and academics – possibly from an immigrant background – face all sorts of barriers during their studies and research. They have considerably less access to networks within and outside the University, and a lack of financial resources often hampers their studies or research. As a retirement gift Carel is therefore asking for a donation that will help talented first-generation students and academics achieve their ambitions. This will go towards a buddy system and grants for study or research abroad.


- Carel Stolker

‘At school and university, I had so much support from my parents and the environment I grew up in. My mother was in business and my father was the first student to graduate in psychology in Leiden (1952). One of his specialisms was career choice psychology even. I had so much luck and help, therefore. And as a lecturer, dean and rector, I have always admired pupils and students who had to do it on their own, who had to find their own way to university. It is these students, often first-generation students, that I want to help with the new Leiden Empowerment Fund. It is them that I want my retirement gift to go towards, via the LUF.’ 


- Aya Ezawa, Diversity Officer

‘University programmes are not managing to attract enough school leavers whose parents did not go to university and to ensure they do stay the course/remain in academia. These pupils lack social and cultural capital: they do not speak the “language” of universities and do not see professors and lecturers as role models that make them think: they’re like me; that’s what I want to be like. They often also lack sufficient financial resources, which means that first-generation students often spend more of their time doing part-time work. Many of them are also carers at home. In short: to feel at home as a first-generation student and find your way at university demands much more than intelligence and hard work alone.

‘If we truly want to inspire and develop all talent, we have to do more than simply to share knowledge: we have to offer guidance, support and a network. Things that everyone needs to make their way in higher education.’

Help make Carel’s wish come true of an academic environment with equal opportunities for all, and donate towards this retirement gift. You can leave a personal message for Carel on the website.