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27 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Prof Thuli Madonsela persuades women to pursue their purpose
Discovering that she was “pretty” for her purpose gave Prof-Adv Thuli Madonsela’s life direction.

What does embracing womanhood mean? For Prof Thuli Madonsela it is about loving yourself and whatever you believe is your purpose in life. 

“All of us are designed for our purpose and are fit for our purpose, you should embrace that and make the best of it,” said South Africa’s former Public Protector in her keynote address to the Women’s Breakfast. In commemoration of Women’s Month, the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Employee Wellness Division hosted the annual event on 21 August 2018 where 900 women gathered under the theme: ‘Embrace your womanhood.’ 

Being a woman today


Law Professor and Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, Prof Madonsela, urged the audience to look beyond the exterior and recognise “that we as individuals have a lot in common”. Speaking of unity in diversity, she praised some of the giants on whose shoulders modern women stand, such as Charlotte Maxeke, Olive Schreiner, Una Wookey, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Pam Golding, Bessie Head, and Ellen Khuzwayo.

These leaders are the epitome of following the purpose of “embracing everyone’s humanity and challenging things that diminish the humanity of others”, according to Prof Madonsela.

Remaining resilient and resolute 

Despite having to contend with a patriarchal system and face challenges such as gender-based violence, femicide, poverty, inequity, media stereotypes, as well as poverty, women continue to rise. Prof Madonsela called for women to capitalise on positives such as freedom and possessing a certain degree of power, legal equality, playing a role in political spaces, economic progress, and owning a public voice.

Drawing inspiration from her humble beginnings and the lessons learnt in leadership, Prof Madonsela conveyed a simple message to all women: “You are exactly as you should be. You are a perfect expression of your creator’s magnificence. You were created for a purpose and whatever you do, just step up and pursue your purpose.”

A word from an inspired woman

It was a memorable event for Burneline Kaars, Head of Employee Wellness. “This year it was an honour to host Prof Madonsela who could share both her academic background and professional experience. She accomplished this by skilfully incorporating lessons from our country’s history and her passion for justice,” she said.

News Archive

UFS hones focus to nurture world-class research - Business Day
2006-02-10

 

Sue Blaine
THE University of the Free State plans to concentrate academic study in five areas to strengthen its status as a research institution, the university said yesterday.

The Bloemfontein-based university will focus on areas it classes as development (economics, health, literacy and other human activities) and social transformation — an analysis of how South African society is changing from a philosophical and political viewpoint.

The other three research areas are new technologies, water resources and security, and food production and security.

“It makes sense to concentrate the university’s human resources, infrastructure, financial resources and intellectual expertise,” said university rector and vice-chancellor Prof Frederick Fourie.

The move introduces a style of research that matches international trends.

Universities in Canada, Britain and Australia are setting up their research departments in this way.

In SA, the universities of Stellenbosch, the Witwatersrand, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal have embarked on similar strategies.

Fourie gave the example of his alma mater, the US’s Harvard University, whose Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centre is an example of “clustering” on a larger scale.

The centre is a collaboration with Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Museum of Science, Boston, and universities in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan.

Fourie said the modern research world was so diverse and complex that no university could cover all bases so it was better to establish areas of expertise that made it different from its peer institutions.

Having scientists and researchers work in teams meant certain issues could be researched and developed in a multidisciplinary manner. “I think it’s the only way in which any university can excel. This will help SA become world class in selected areas,” Fourie said.

It is in chemistry that the cluster model has already had its most visible results, with a slice of the university’s on-campus pharmacological testing company Farmovs, established in the 1980s, sold to the US’s Parexel International.

The company is one of the largest biopharmaceutical outsourcing organisations in the world, providing knowledge-based contract research, medical marketing and consulting services to the global pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, according to Biospace, an internet-based company providing resources and information to the life science industry.

President Thabo Mbeki, in his state of the nation address last Friday, committed government to allocating more resources to research, development and innovation, and increasing the pool of young researchers in SA.

He said government would “continue to engage the leadership of our tertiary institutions focused on working with them to meet the nation’s expectations with regard to teaching and research”.

The university used to be home to several A-rated scientists, who are considered by a peer review, conducted by the National Research Foundation, to be world leaders in their fields, but had lost them to other institutions. Fourie hopes to lure them back, and with them postgraduate students and funding for their work.

“At universities where you get a star researcher they tend to attract people and funding; if they leave they take that with them,” he said.

Fourie said R50m would be spent on the project, with some already spent last year and the last disbursements to be made next year.

There is R10m in seed money to gather experts and improve equipment and infrastructure, and R17m has been invested in chemistry equipment and staff.

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