16 November 2023 | Story LACEA LOADER | Photo KALEIDOSCOPE
VC Prof Petersen
Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UFS and newly elected Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Universities South Africa (USAf).

Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Free State (UFS), has been elected as the new Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Universities South Africa (USAf) for the next two years, commencing on 1 January 2024. He was elected Chairperson after a two-year term as Vice-Chairperson of USAf, and will be deputised by Prof Rushiella Songca, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Walter Sisulu University, whose term will run concurrently with that of Prof Petersen. 

“On behalf of the UFS Council and the university community, I wish to congratulate Prof Petersen on his election as Chairperson of USAf’s Board of Directors. His election comes at a crucial time in higher education, and his leadership will undoubtably contribute to the success and advancement of USAf. We wish him all the best in this critical leadership role,” says David Noko, Chairperson of the UFS Council. 

“I am honoured by my election as Chairperson and will, together with the Board, continue working towards the advancement of universities and the betterment of higher education in South Africa,” says Prof Petersen. 

Prof Petersen is a professional engineer with an extensive career in executive and senior academic positions, including as a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Cape Town. Being registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa, he has served as a member of an international panel on sustainability for AngloGold Ashanti, acted as adviser to the Anglo-American Platinum Beneficiation Fund, and is a fellow of both the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the South African Academy of Engineers. He has also served in senior positions in industry, among others as a non-executive director on the Board of Royal Bafokeng Platinum. He is a former chairperson of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Board, as well as a former member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), among many other positions. 

In 2023, he was recognised as one of the individuals making an impact on Africa’s development when he received the RUFORUM (Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture) Recognition Award for his outstanding leadership, foresight, and contribution to the promotion of excellence in higher education on the continent. Through his visibility internationally and his promotion of the impact of the UFS and South Africa abroad – but specifically in the United Kingdom (UK) – he was also appointed to the Board of the South African Chamber of Commerce UK

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