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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

Pursuit of excellence a strong focus for incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor
2017-02-06

Description: Official opening 2017 Tags: Official opening 2017

Prof Francis Petersen, the incoming
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS,
shared his future plans for the university
with staff during the official opening.
Photo: Johan Roux

Video clip
Photo gallery

The newly elected Chairperson of the UFS Council, Mr Willem Louw, and Prof Francis Petersen, the incoming Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, were welcomed at this year’s official opening of the academic year which took place at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) on 3 February 2017.  

Prof Petersen, who will start his tenure at the UFS on 1 April 2017, was introduced to staff by the Acting Rector, Prof Nicky Morgan. Prof Petersen shared his future plans for the UFS with staff.

His vision for the UFS spells excellence. Among others, he seeks to establish an academic culture of excellence, underpinned by the pillars of diversity and inclusivity. “It is important that there should be respect for different convictions,” he said.

“The UFS should be a place where everyone feels welcome; a strong sense of belonging is needed. Staff and students should feel that they would like to make a contribution to make the UFS a strong university,” he said.

In order to address the institutional climate issue, Prof Petersen suggests that attention be given to the curriculum as well as transformation of the research culture. Research outputs should be expanded and diversified. Inclusivity from a community engagement perspective is also needed. “The things we are good at and in which we excel should be the anchors impacting our academic enterprise,” he said.

In terms of the physical environment, he said that spaces should be welcoming for students. “It is important that we sit with students to get their views and listen to their concerns,” Prof Petersen said.

To promote transformation at the university, the UFS management team is busy working on an integrated transformation plan to be submitted to Council in June 2017. As part of this process, consultations will be held with staff and students in order to incorporate their perspectives and convictions in the plan as well.

“It is important that there should be
respect for different convictions.”

Furthermore, it is important for Prof Petersen that the Qwaqwa and South Campuses should be more integrated with the Bloemfontein Campus. “The UFS is one university with three locations. The fact that it is one university should be reflected in our actions, attentions, and thoughts. Although there are geographical differences, all three campuses should receive the same resources and should deliver the same quality outputs,” he said.

Prof Petersen ended his speech by returning to the importance of academic excellence. “With the Academic Project we always strive for excellence. To achieve academic excellence, the focus is on both academic and support staff. In order to reach our goal, all staff should produce work of superior quality,” he said.

“I am a good listener who is outcome driven, with a vision that includes: diversity, inclusivity, academic excellence, and innovation”, Prof Petersen concluded.  

 

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