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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.

“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

Reflection should stimulate action – Prof Petersen

 Description: Panel discussion: Reflection should stimulate action  Tags: Panel discussion: Reflection should stimulate action

Panellists at a discussion held by the Institute for
Reconciliation and Social Justice were, from the left,
Prof Elelwani Ramugondo of the University of Cape Town,
Prof Melissa Steyn from Wits, Prof Francis Petersen,
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, and SK Luwaca,
president of the Student Representative Council on the
Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Johan Roux

Photo Gallery

The University of the Free State (UFS) should be a place of belonging, a place where staff, academics and students belong and can make a contribution to a democratic society.

This is according to Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS. He was one of four panellists at a discussion, titled Diversity, inclusivity and social justice and the renewed call for decolonisation, hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ). Prof Elelwani Ramugondo from the University of Cape Town, Prof Melissa Steyn from Wits, and SK Luwaca, president of the Student Representative Council on the Bloemfontein Campus, were the other panellists.

The IRSJ facilitated the discussion, which formed part of the inauguration proceedings for Prof Petersen as new Vice-Chancellor and Rector, in the Albert Wessels Auditorium on the Bloemfontein Campus on 18 May 2017.

Renewed thinking about decolonisation

Prof Steyn said: “We can develop our vocabulary to understand our real differences.” She noted that we are all part of reproducing, resisting and reframing the current order.

Universities should be a place where questions can be asked, Prof Ramugondo said. She elaborated on the term decolonisation, saying we needed to investigate how we related and reflected on it, mentioning the myths that surrounded the term. “We should renew our thinking [about decolonisation] at universities,” she said.

“We can develop our vocabulary
to understand our real differences.”

What does a transformed UFS look like?
According to Luwaca unity isn’t something that can be faked, but everybody should work towards it, building a rainbow nation together. It is important for everyone to be on the same page: “We have to ask ourselves what a transformed university looks like.”

Prof Petersen said it was important to often pause and reflect: “Reflection should stimulate action. Reflection is not something without action.”

After the discussion, a lively question-and-answer session with the panellists took place. Prof André Keet, director of the IRSJ and facilitator of the discussion, suggested the gathering should be the start of many similar engagements.

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