UFS Chemistry celebrates 100 years as an independent subject – 2009

The UFS started as the Grey University College (GUC), founded in 1904 as an extension of Grey in Bloemfontein. It was known by this name until 1935 when the name of the university changed from 'Het Grey Universiteitskollege' to 'Die Universiteitskollege van die Oranje-Vrystaat' (UKOVS, the acronym from which 'Kovsie' was derived).

The first lecturer in Physics, J.S. Lyle, responsible for the teaching of Physics as well as Chemistry, was appointed in 1904. Two corrugated and wooden laboratories were erected in 1905. In 1909, Physics and Chemistry became independent subjects, with W.A.D. Rudge as Professor in Physics and Max Rindl as Professor in Chemistry and Geology. Chemistry and Physics only became recognized departments when the Faculty of Science was founded in 1918, although Prof M. Rindl was the first professor in Chemistry as an independent subject as far back as 1909.

The first paper published by Chemistry was in 1913: M. Rindl, Journal of the Chemical Society, Transactions, 103, pp 1911-1917. Prof Max Rindl (after whom the Rindl Lecture Hall in Chemistry was named) guided the department until 1942.

Up to 1949, the Departments of Chemistry and Physics were housed in a few rooms in the southern part of the present historical Main Building on the Bloemfontein Campus. In 1949, two new double-storied buildings were completed for both, with Chemistry being housed in the Moerdyk Building; the corner stone dated 1 May 1948, laid by the Chairman of the UKOVS board, Senator J.H.B. Reitz.

The Chemistry Building was expanded in 1965 with the aid of the Transvaal and Orange Free State Chamber of Mines, and research in radiochemistry was then housed in the south-eastern part of the current complex. The building was again expanded in 1976 when the south-western section, currently housing the NMR unit and the Chemistry library, was completed. Upgrading of the current building commenced in 2006.

The full history can be found by following this link.

A complete list of the current staff, published papers, research groups, thrusts, and other detail of the Department of Chemistry can be found on the website of the university (www.ufs.ac.za/chem).


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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