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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

Three receive PhD degrees in Architecture at Winter Graduation ceremony
2015-07-08

Dr Hendrik Auret, Dr Gerhard Bosman and Dr Madelein Stoffberg.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Three graduates from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Architecture received their PhD degrees at the 2015 Winter Graduation ceremony on the Bloemfontein Campus. According to Prof Walter Peters from Architecture, this is the first time in the history of the UFS that three PhD degrees in Architecture have been awarded simultaneously. It is country-wide a rare occurrence for three PhDs to be awarded in Architecture at one graduation ceremony.

“Previously, the UFS has only ever awarded a single PhD in Architecture, and that was in 1987, to Leon Roodt, a former head of the department. The first UFS honorary doctorate in Architecture was conferred on Gerard Moerdijk, architect of the Afrikaner church and the Voortrekker Monument. Gawie Fagan and Prof Bannie Britz, late head of the Department of Architecture, were other recipients of an honorary doctorate in Architecture,” said Prof Peters.

At the 2015 Winter Graduation ceremony, the UFS conferred PhDs in Architecture on Hendrik Auret from Roodt Architects in Bloemfontein as well as on Gerhard Bosman, and Madelein Stoffberg from the UFS Department of Architecture.

Dr Hendrik Auret

As an Architecture student at the university, Dr Auret obtained the degree BArchStud in 2004, a BArchStud (Hons) in 2005, and a March (Prof) in 2006, all cum laude. His Master’s design dissertation was judged the best from all South African Architecture learning sites, earning him the coveted ‘Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year’ award.

The work of the Norwegian architect and theorist, Christian Norberg-Schulz, served as the basis of Dr Auret’s PhD thesis, Care, place and architecture: a critical reading of Christian Norberg-Schulz’s architectural interpretation of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, which considered the cogency of Norberg-Schulz’s architectural ‘translation’ of the German philosopher Heidegger’s thinking.

Dr Gerhard Bosman

On obtaining his BArchStud. and BArch degrees at the university in 1993 and 1995 respectively, Dr Bosman immediately joined the part-time staff of the Department of Architecture. As a lecturer in Building Construction, he developed an interest in vernacular and indigenous methods and techniques. Consequently, he built the first family home in Bloemfontein, for his wife, Debbie, and their two children, of earth construction, which been previously but erroneously considered inferior.

Despite that negative perception, Dr Bosman persuade the university to allow him to undertake post-graduate studies at the International Center for Earth Architecture (CRATerre-ENSAG) within the Ecole d' Architecture de Grenoble, France, from which institution,he was awarded the DPEA-Architecture de Terre qualification in 2000. In 2001,Dr Bosman was appointed to the full-time staff.

In 2003, when the opportunity arose, he became involved with SANPAD, the South Africa-Netherlands Research Project on Alternatives in Development, which lead ultimately to his PhD thesis: The acceptability of earth-constructed houses in central areas of South Africa.

Dr Madelein Stoffberg

In 2005, Dr Stoffberg enrolled as an Architecture student at the UFS, obtaining her BArchStud degree in 2007, the BArchStud (Hons) in 2008 and the March (Prof) in 2009, the latter cum laude. Immediately on graduating, Dr Stoffberg was appointed to her position as a part-time junior lecturer in the Department of Architecture.

During her studies, her attention was drawn to the concept of the spatial triad of Henri Lefebvre. Fascinated with the conceptand by the development of community centres as a contemporary architectural typology, she began her PhD degree.  

Entitled Lived reality, perception and architecture: two community centres interrogated through the lens of Lefebvre’s spatial triad, Dr Stoffberg investigated the relationship between the spatial understanding of the project architect and the community of two completed buildings in Port Elizabeth. She established a mismatch in perception, representation, and use of space, which could be bridged, however, by way of a qualitative research approach, instead of a quantitative one.


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