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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Prof Frederick Fourie to step down as UFS rector
2008-09-08

“It is with sadness that I hereby announce my intention to step down as rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) in the 4th quarter of this year.

Obviously this decision has not been taken lightly. After careful consideration I am, however, convinced that this is as far as I can take the UFS as vice-chancellor and rector. This flows primarily from the exhausting times that I have experienced during the past nine years, first as vice-rector (since 1999) and then as rector (since 2003), in managing and implementing several complex strategic projects.

The challenges and complexities of continuous change management at a higher education institution, and specifically the demands of further dynamic development and transformation at the UFS, demand enormous amounts of emotional energy and drive. For me the stress due to, especially, the political divisions and tensions in the UFS Council and the broader university community during the past year has been extremely draining. The broader institution and its people also show signs of trauma.

I think it is time for new and fresh leadership, especially in the light of the transformation challenges of the UFS.

I have thus decided to step down in the interest of transformation and the further dynamic development of the UFS.

Having been on sabbatical leave since May, I will not return to take up my post. I will remain on leave until my official date of retirement from office. (The exact date must still be determined.)

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been at the helm of the UFS and to help the institution cross several bridges. During the past nine years I have been privileged to lead large strategic projects together with many dedicated and talented UFS colleagues. It has been a wonderful experience of thinking and working together in order to elevate the functioning of the University to new levels in several key areas.

One of the most important projects was the financial turnaround strategy of 2000-2005, which took the UFS from a financial crisis to a situation where currently it annually has almost R100 million of discretionary funding available to spend on strategic projects, and where staff remuneration and promotion opportunities have increased dramatically since 2000. In this period the UFS has also grown from approximately 10 000 students to more than 27 000 in 2008.

A second was the strategy to invest strongly in the academic core and notably research, research capacity and research apparatus. Since 2003 research outputs have increased by approximately 50% - a significant accomplishment of our researchers and faculties. In conjunction with this, the launch of the six strategic academic clusters (focus areas) should create the basis for the continued growth in the national and international stature of the UFS in future. The development of the national leadership role of the UFS with regard to community service also was a special and successful project.

A third large strategic project was the progress with regard to diversity, the balanced multilingualism policy in the academe as well as the administration, the employment equity plan, the UFS transformation plan and especially the institutional charter – which could lay the foundation for a university where one and all can experience a true sense of belonging amidst diversity. These have been important steps that we can feel proud of (although much work obviously remains with regard to non-racialism and also non-sexism).

As far as residences are concerned, it was historically significant that this time, in contrast to 1997/8, the UFS succeeded in crossing the bridge of diversity and integration in residences – with due regard to the difficulties we faced. Hopefully this will considerably ease the task of my successor and her/his management team in managing diversity and in pursuing best practice transformation.

A fourth large project was the large-scale upgrading and development of infrastructure, academic buildings and facilities as well as support service facilities, student facilities and pedestrian walkways. The objective was a campus of the highest quality and aesthetics to effect a lasting improvement in their work- and living environment for staff and students. Indeed, the UFS Main Campus today is seen as an example of sensitive and high quality campus planning.

Other initiatives which haven’t borne fruit yet are, for example, those with regard to entrepreneurial activities, sport development and sport business development, and the possible establishment of an engineering programme or faculty at the UFS.

On the whole the most important thing for me has been the progress in establishing a deep commitment to quality and equity/fairness and in boosting the national and international profile of the UFS as a high quality progressive university. Of course, justice, equity and quality intrinsically are challenges which require daily dedication to make it an ingrained habit.

I wish to thank all those people with whom I could work during the past years in tackling large and complex challenges with mutual loyalty, shared wisdom and effort – from the Financial Turnaround Team to the Exco, the Executive Management, the Faculties, the Senate, support service divisions, the University Council and several committees and task teams”.

Frederick C.v.N. Fourie
Rector and Vice-Chancellor
University of the Free State

Prof Frederick Fourie has been with the UFS since 1976. After obtaining a PhD in Economics from Harvard he was appointed professor at the age of 29 in 1982, head of the Department of Economics in 1992, Distinguished Professor in 1998, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences in 1997, Vice-rector: Academic in 1999 and vice-chancellor in 2003.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
8 September 2008
 

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