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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

Oprah warms up chilly Bloemfontein
2011-06-24

 

Mr John Samuel (left), interim Director of the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice; Dr Winfrey, and Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector.
Photo: Rian Horn 

Transcription of speech

Photo gallery

Video clip

Dr Oprah Winfrey brought Bloemfontein a warm day in the middle of a bitter cold winter. Outside the Callie Human Centre of our university, people were shivering in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius.

Inside, however, the audience was engulfed in the excitement and warmth of a very special occasion: media icon and philanthropist Dr Winfrey received an honorary degree in Education from our university. 

The graduation was probably the biggest ceremony of its kind in South Africa. The Callie Human was packed with more than 4 500 people who had jumped for the opportunity to attend one of the great milestones in the existence of our university. They had to brave long queues to obtain tickets and to get seated. However, this just added to the excitement of seeing Dr Winfrey in real life. 

The ceremony was like a huge reunion or festival. Some people had called in designers to dress them for the occasion, while others fetched their very best clothes from their wardrobes. People tweeted, sent SMS messages, phoned or brought their families with them. Cell phones and cameras captured the occasion.

The graduation ceremony was also an emotional moment for Dr Winfrey, who shed silent tears.

Her motivational talk afterwards was very inspiring. Dr Winfrey said that everybody can be successful. They just need to apply their minds to what they want.

“Never give up. You are not defined by your circumstances. There is hope. Have a vision and let that vision be bigger than yourself. Allow yourself to live in that space of yourself,” Dr Winfrey said.

About 100 volunteers from the univeristy community helped by among others showing guests to their seats, providing guests assistance with parking and taking care of general enquiries from the audience.

The university received messages of congratulations from all over for the arrangements and the professional way in which the ceremony was presented.
 

Media Release
25 June 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: +27 51 401 2584
Cell: +27 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za


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