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UFS opens centenary complex
2004-10-12

Today, 12 October 2004, the University of the Free State (UFS) opens the Centenary complex on the grounds of the old Reitz dining hall.

Me Edma Pelzer, Director: Physical Resources and Special Projects at the UFS, said the Centenary complex is furnished mainly for personnel and alumni, just as the Thakaneng Bridge was primarily established as gathering place for students.

On 10 March 2004 the UFS management held the first official function in the half completed complex during the unveiling of the memorial stone by the Rector, Prof Frederick Fourie. What made this occasion remarkable is that old President FW Reitz, 81 years earlier, on 10 March 1923, also laid a memorial stone at the same place, said Ms Pelzer. The complex originally existed of the Reitz dining hall, which was named after old president Reitz, a hostel father residence and administration offices. In historical documents about old president Reitz it is mentioned that already as chief judge he campaigned for the establishment of a university in the Free State and later as president he proceeded with this attempt.

With the opening of the Thakaneng-bridge food preparation and -serving at the Reitz dining hall was discontinued. The kitchen and dining facilities became obsolete. With the evacuation of the old student centre replacements for the Bloemfontein- and Anlgo American-rooms were to be found elsewhere on campus. The idea to convert the historical Reitz building complex in an UFS reception and a space for socialising started to exist.

Ms Pelzer said the UFS is committed to treat its history and its old buildings with respect and to utilise it optimally to enhance the strategic objectives of the university. The Centenary complex must communicate the university as an established, quality institution with an interesting history to visitors. It must serve as a home for alumni and as a one stop visiting point for important visitors who do not have time to experience the whole campus.

In the complex provision is made for entertaining and kitchen facilities, a museum where valuable UFS-memorabilia are kept and exhibited, an amfi theatre and an art gallery which would for the first time offer a permanent home for the art collection of the UFS. Venues will accommodate groups from between 15 to 300 persons.

The reception area will be used by the UFS for occasions such as chancellors’ functions, smaller and bigger receptions for the rector, tea parties after graduation ceremonies, openings of conferences and long service awards. The university also plans to rent out the complex for prestige occasions where the UFS personnel and alumni are involved.

The opening of the Centenary complex form part of the Centenary celebrations of this week. Many of this week’s activities will take place in the complex.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
12 October 2004

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