The feather – Marc Van Laeken

A feather in your cap: the feather is a prize passed on from one UAntwerp colleague to another in recognition of their efforts or achievements. This time, Carla Uwents (Environmental Office) passes the feather on to Marc Van Laeken (Infrastructure Department).

Dear Marc 

When the feather was passed to me by Veronique Verhoeven, it felt a bit strange to read how others see my work. And I know your automatic reflex is to dismiss any praise of you, so I’m not even sure I’m doing you a favour by passing you the feather. In any case, I’m honoured to talk about you and the incredible commitment you’ve shown every day for so many years.

The day I started at UAntwerp, I already heard about you, as you had made sure that an extra desk was added to the office where I would be working – invisible, but invaluable. That’s how many colleagues see you: as a quiet presence, with your blue dust coat, often in the company of your colleague Serge in the white van, always greeting us with a nod. 

You are the man who has known our Wilrijk campus since before there was a campus, and as a mover (and former stand builder) you really know every corner of every campus. As a porter, you are also perfectly aware of which events recur every year on Campus Drie Eiken, so you know exactly what’s needed for them. Countless fire alarms, floods, power failures and fallen trees have been reported to you, day and night (and even on Christmas Eve), and every time you ensure swift communication with colleagues in the prevention or infrastructure departments.

But there’s one thing in particular I admire you for: the flawless inventory you have in your brain of all the furniture stored across various campuses. A meeting room that needs redecorating, an extra table for a student worker or visiting lecturer, waiting room seats that are due for replacement and for which something else is being sought, a display case for lost objects, or an extra cupboard for giveaway items …  You have all that in stock somewhere, because you have a good radar for what can be reused and what can be donated to the charity shop. Any move handled by you is always carried out with utmost care, as if it was for yourself.

The best reuse story you’re responsible for are the lockers of the Stadscampus library. When you heard that they were going to be taken out, you made a design to reuse them in different configurations at Campus Drie Eiken in different buildings, as you had noticed there was a need for them. With some help from colleagues in the mechanical workshop the locks were modified, so students can now put their own padlocks on the lockers.

You’ve been ensuring maximum circular use of materials for years – since long before circularity became trendy – as well as sustainability, even before there was a word for it (let alone a position). Like a good family man, caring and dedicated.

Thank you, Marc, for helping to make this a great place to be every day. There should be more people like you!

Warmest regards, 


P.S.: Not to mention those willow stems you went to collect from a colleague, so our GreenOffice students could carry out their tree-planting campaign at the Veterinary Medicine meadow.