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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

UFS welcomes Prof Francis Petersen as new Vice-Chancellor and Rector
2017-04-02

 

Prof Francis Petersen takes up office as the 14th Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State today.
 
“On behalf of the UFS Council and the university community, I would like to welcome Prof Petersen to the university. He brings to the UFS a distinguished academic record, confident leadership, innovative thinking, and an understanding of the extent of the challenges being experienced by universities in the broader South African context,” says Mr Willem Louw, Chairperson of the UFS Council. 
 
“I am excited to join the UFS and look forward to meeting the university community, to get to know the three campuses, and to engage with staff and students. In a way, it was a natural progression for me to be appointed in this position, having been Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Innovation at the same university.  On the other hand, I believe that universities in South Africa need strong and innovative leadership. I would like to make a contribution to the higher-education system in this regard.  Moreover, I regard the UFS as a very good university, and see my challenge in taking the UFS to the next level,” says Prof Petersen.
 
“Challenges and making a difference motivate me – whether complex or simplistic, the opportunity to be able to provide solutions and taking people with me while developing these solutions, is what ultimately motivates me.”
 
“It is important that different viewpoints are respected. The UFS must be a place where everyone feels welcome. There must be a strong sense of belonging; staff and students must feel they are making a contribution to the university,” he says.
 
According to Prof Petersen, the major challenge for the university is its institutional climate.  “My focus would be to strive towards creating an institutional climate of inclusivity, respect for one another, valuing diversity in all its forms, and to make the university a welcoming place. The UFS is in the process of developing an Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) that will serve as the road map to address the institutional climate challenge, but will also assist (if implemented effectively) in excelling the UFS in areas of teaching and learning, research and innovation, and community engagement through scholarship,” says Prof Petersen.

“I am a good listener, I am outcome-based, and my vision for the university includes diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence,” he says.

Prof Petersen was born in Oudtshoorn and grew up in Malmesbury in the Western Cape, where he also matriculated. He graduated from Stellenbosch University with a BEng (Chem Eng), MEng (Metal Eng), and PhD (Eng) degrees and completed a short course on Financial Skills for Executive Management. He is a recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award for research excellence, and was visiting professor at the Cape Technikon and extraordinary professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stellenbosch University. He is a regular reviewer of journals, and member of a range of editorial boards for international journals. He is also a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and a Fellow of both the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the South African Academy of Engineers.

 He brings to the position of Vice-Chancellor and Rector his extensive experience of management in both the industry and academic sectors. He has been the executive head of strategy at Anglo American Platinum and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology). Among others, he previously served as member on the Board of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Advisory Council on Innovation, and the Council of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

 Prof Petersen is married and has two sons. He was appointed by the UFS Council at the end of 2016 after Prof Jonathan Jansen stepped down as Vice-Chancellor and Rector on 31 August 2016, serving in this position since July 2009. Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS, has been acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector since 1 September 2016.

 

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 51 444 6393

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