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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

UFS professor receives international recognition for exceptional ethical values
2015-10-02

“You grow so fond of them,” Prof André Venter,
Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health,
says while doing his rounds with patients.
Prof Venter recently received the award for health professions
from the international organisation, Unashamedly Ethical.

“You are such a pretty baby,” Prof André Venter, Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of the Free State, whispers to a baby lying stretched out in her neonatal cradle.

He uses his fingertips to free her legs and arms carefully from the monitors and wires attached to her.

“See how much you have grown,” he says, tapping with his finger on her file. 1.2 kg - her weight indicates. 

In one of the other children’s wards, he joins a mother sitting with her sick baby. Speaking about the baby’s operation coming up within the next few months, he gives her an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

He visits yet another mother who is practising kangaroo care on her baby, and asks to hold the baby for a while.

“Gosh, you’re so nice and warm, let doctor hold you for a while,” he says, hugging the premature baby to his chest.

Prof Venter greets and thanks the nursing staff at the end of his ward rounds.

“Everything is not always good, but one can try to plan for the future from the challenges,” he says. “One should never concentrate on the immediate problem too much, but lift the morale of those using our services, those providing the services, and those who come here for training.”

It is this kind of passion and outlook that earned Prof Venter an ethical award from the international organisation, Unashamedly Ethical. The award, which was made in the health professions category, recognises doctors for exceptional ethical values and for going the extra mile in alleviating the suffering of humanity.

“I am humbled at being honoured for something I see as my passion and actually take for granted. I am also touched that people from outside noticed and nominated me for this,” he says.

He talks about his young patients again: “I learn so much from them each day. Children are so resistant to negative things. I grow so fond of them that I forget they have to go home some time.”

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