03 December 2018 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Thabo Kessah
Dr Martin Mandew welcoming ceremony
Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Martin Mandew, UFS Council Chairperson Willem Louw, and Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector: Operations.

The University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus and the broader community gave the new Principal, Dr Martin Mandew, a warm welcome on Thursday 22 November 2018. In attendance were representatives from different stakeholders, ranging from the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District, the UFS Council, to the Student Representative Council (SRC) who challenged Dr Mandew to take the campus to greater heights.

In welcoming Dr Mandew, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, highlighted recent campus achievements, including increased enrolment for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. “There has been a tremendous growth in our enrolment for both under- and postgraduate students. First-time undergraduate students grew by 124% from 2015 to 2018 – from 1 027 to 2 300 students. Regarding postgraduate students, we grew by 68% – from 329 to 551 in the same period of time. In addition, the University Staff Doctorate Project (USDP) that seeks to increase the number of academics with PhDs, is already unfolding. This programme will see six academics pursuing doctorate degrees in natural sciences, social sciences, the humanities, economic management sciences, and education, but will be focusing on multidisciplinary research on mountains or mountain communities. This Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) project is performed in collaboration with three American universities – the Appalachian State University, the Colorado State University, and the University of Montana,” he said.

“We have also seen increased research output that came partly as a result of our ARU collaborating with the United Nations University and the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Frontier Sciences in Japan. This partnership is aimed at developing the campus to be a sustainability hub of research and education, focusing on mountain and rural regions in South Africa,” he added.

Prof Petersen also acknowledged the role Dr Mandew was already playing in “broadening the reach of community engagement, integrating all efforts by different faculties and departments into one sustainable programme and integrating commuting or day students into university life”.

Speaking on behalf of the Qwaqwa Campus Branch of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), Deputy Chairperson, Motlogelwa Moema, highlighted the need for the new Campus Principal to always listen to the workers. “Workers themselves will tell you about their issues and you will not read about them in some minutes or written notes from somewhere,” he said. Representing UVPERSU was Grey Magaiza, who extended a hand of cooperation to Dr Mandew. “We are prepared to share your agenda of developing this campus with you, and you can count on us,” he said.

In his response, Dr Mandew also extended a hand of cooperation to those willing to see the campus becoming an institution of choice. “It has to be emphasised that this event is not about me, but about our biggest stakeholders – our students – and how we can advance our campus together and make it better. We must make this campus the best of its size in the whole of South Africa,” he said.

His Majesty Morena E Mohono Moremoholo Mopeli from the Bakoena Ba Mopeli Traditional Council welcomed Dr Mandew with a Basotho blanket, a rod, and a hat – symbols of the highest level and warmest welcome.