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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

IRSJ marks five years of championing social justice
2016-08-12

Description: IRSJ 5 year Tags: IRSJ 5 year

Members of the Advisory Board of the IRSJ,
Prof Michalinos Zembylas (Open University
of Cyprus), Prof Shirley Anne Tate (Leeds
University, England), and Prof Relebohile
Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal),
listen to a speaker on the programme.
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) marked its fifth anniversary with a function on 27 July 2016 in the Reitz Hall of the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). Earlier that day, the Advisory Board of the IRSJ, chaired by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, hosted their annual meeting.

A new book was also launched, co-authored by JC van der Merwe, Deputy-Director at the IRSJ and Dionne van Reenen, researcher and PhD candidate at the IRSJ. It is entitled Transformation and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading Discourses from ‘Reitz’. The function featured not only reflections on the IRSJ, but a four-member panel discussion of the book and higher education in 2016.

The IRSJ came into being officially at the UFS in January 2011. Prof André Keet, Director of the IRSJ, said: “With a flexibility and trust not easily found in the higher education sector, the university management gave us the latitude and support to fashion an outfit that responds to social life within and outside the borders of the university, locally and globally.”

The IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and
courageous in reforming ... traditional policies."

 

Prof Jansen went on to mention three things he finds appealing about the IRSJ: “Thanks to Prof Keet and his team’s vision and understanding of how important it is for students to have a space in which they can learn how to be, learn how to think, and learn how to contribute, the IRSJ has become a place where students can learn about things that they might not learn in the classroom. Second, it created, for the first time, a space where members of the LGBTIQ community could gather in one place. And third, it speaks to the intellectual life of the university, as evidenced by the research and publications produced over the past few years.”

Prof Jansen added: “The IRSJ will only be successful to the extent that we have safe spaces, courageous spaces, in which not only black students talk to themselves, but where black and white students talk together about their difficulties. If you’re entangled, you can’t get out of [that] unless you speak to the other person.”

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Prof Michalinos Zembylas of the Open University of Cyprus and member of the Advisory Board, said of the IRSJ: “The works produced by the institute in this short time have been valuable to this community and beyond, because they recognise the complexities of education, ... while pushing the boundaries of how to translate theoretical discussions into practical, everyday conditions. ... For example, the IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and courageous in reforming some traditional policies in this university—remnants of an ambivalent past that reproduced inequality and disadvantage.

In reflecting on how the IRSJ came into being during her opening remarks, Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic at the UFS, said that it has always been “dedicated to transformation.” She added that it “gathered the energy and creativity of some of our most promising student leaders.” She concluded: “For me, the greatest success of the Institute, besides publications and local and international networks, is the fact that something that started in the margins is being asked today to come closer to the centre, to play a larger role in the structural transformation of the university.”

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