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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.

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Graduates convene with global leaders at the UFS 2015 Winter Graduation ceremonies
2015-07-07

Dr Hendrik Auret, dr Gerhard Bosman en dr Madelein Stoffberg.
Foto: Leonie Bolleurs

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The University of the Free State’s 2015 Winter Graduations, which took place from 1-2 July 2015 on the Bloemfontein Campus offered several highlights. Three global leaders received honorary doctorates. A further 2 000 degrees and diplomas were conferred to graduates in the seven faculties of the university.

For the first time in the history of the UFS, three PhDs in Architecture were awarded simultaneously. Hendrik Auret, Gerhard Bosman, and Madelein Stoffberg’s outstanding achievements are a milestone in the university’s pursuit of academic excellence.

Furthermore, three PhDs were conferred on graduates from the Department of Consumer Science in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Ismari van der Merwe, Natasha Cronje, and Gloria Seiphetlheng set a precedent when they walked across the Callie Human stage to collect their doctorates at the same graduation ceremony.

This year, the university produced 66 Doctors of Philosophy in various fields of study. Six of these PhDs were awarded in the Department of Physics. Three graduates in the Department of Soil- and Crop- and Climate Sciences received PhDs at the Winter Graduation. They are Tesha Mardamootoo, Elmarie Kotzé, and David Chemei.

Dr John Samuel.
Photo: Johan Roux

Keynote speakers provide enlightenment to graduates

On Wednesday 1 July 2015, Dr John Samuel, SA’s leading education expert, addressed 707 diploma graduates from the Centre for Financial Planning Law and the School of Open Learning. For the graduates’ future reference, Samuel offered invaluable knowledge he had accumulated over the years as Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “One of the lessons I have learnt was not only the importance of time, but it was in fact what being on time demonstrated,” he said. “Being on time was demonstrating respect, respect for the people you are meeting, and for the occasion.”

On the second day of graduation, Nataniël, South African singer, songwriter, and entertainer spoke to Master’s and doctoral graduates in the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences, Humanities, Education, Health Sciences, Law, Theology, and Natural and Agricultural Sciences. His keynote spoke to the graduates’ sense of resolve in saying, “nothing is ever accidental. It is always with a purpose, it is your turn to make the world a better place.” He added that “it is important to strive for excellence and to be proud of what you are doing.”

Honorary doctorate recipients in a nutshell

Dr Samuel is one of the three exceptional global leaders to receive honorary doctorates from the university on 1 July 2015. His accolade was presented by the Faculty of Education. He has contributed to the Public Participation Education Network (PPEN) campaign as a founding member. He established the Centre for Education Policy Development, the Joint Working Group (for The National Party Government and the ANC), the National Education Conference, and the National Education and Training Forum. In addition, he made leadership contributions to the First Education and Training White Paper, the first Green Paper on Higher Education, and is the CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. The WK Kellogg Foundation in the USA operates under his directorship.

Professor Heidi Hudson, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS and Dr Lakhdar Brahimi.
Photo: Mike Rose from Mike Rose Photography

Dr Lakhdar Brahimi received an honorary doctorate from the Centre for Africa Studies. Algerian-born Brahimi was first involved with the United Nations (UN) in 1992, and has since been deployed all over the world on peacekeeping missions. Amongst many other countries, he has worked as a mediator for South Africa, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Burundi, Angola, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the UN. He also played a direct role in South Africa’s democratic transition as a special representative in 1993/4.

Dr Mercy Amba Oduyoye received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology. Dr Oduyoye is widely regarded as one of the most influential women theologians in Africa. She was the first black woman to receive a degree in Theology in 1965 from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She continues to shift the paradigm of gender in theology internationally as the director of the Institute of African Women in Religion and Culture at the Trinity Theology Seminary in Ghana.

Dr Mercy Oduyoye.
Photo: Johan Roux

In closing the academic celebrations

Vice Rector: Academic, Dr Lis Lange, commended the class of 2014 for making their contribution to the educational system. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector, also congratulated the graduates in closing.

“This is a day many have worked very hard towards, it is an enormous achievement as well as a development in the quality of research, and the courage to research,” he said in a vote of confidence.

Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the UFS, applauded the university in light of the increased number of female graduates who completed their degrees with distinctions. The transcendence of demographics, both in terms of gender and race, on a postgraduate level, increases the hope of achieving gender equality in both the academic arena and South Africa.

More graduation news

A number of distinctions were also awarded during the two-day ceremony. For a list of these distinctions, follow this link.

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