Pursuit of Excellence a Strong Focus For Incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor
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
Pursuit of Excellence a Strong Focus For Incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor, 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 .
Prof Petersen, who will start his tenure at the UFS on 1 April , 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 . 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.