Jansen steps down after seven years

2016-05-18 06:00

THE University of the Free State (UFS) has begun searching for a suitable replacement for Prof. Jonathan Jansen, who will officially step down as vice-chancellor and rector of the institution on 31 August.

His departure on this date will end Jansen’s seven-year tenure at the helm of the UFS, having taken up the influential position on 31 July 2009.

In a statement by Judge Ian van der Merwe, chairperson: UFS Council, Jansen will take up an invitation as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences at the Stanford University in America in September.

He said the fellowship, which was awarded to Jansen earlier this year, was an opportunity for him to further advance his career as an internationally- renowned academic in education.

“Prof. Jansen’s departure is a great loss for the university, but the council accepts his decision to step down and pursue his academic career, as well as other opportunities. The council is grateful for the vision and the inspirational leadership that Prof. Jansen provided during his tenure at the UFS,” said Van der Merwe.

“He has led the university through difficult and complex times – from after the Reitz incident up until the recent student protest actions.

“He brought stability and respect for the university – nationally as well as internationally.

“The council appreciates Prof. Jansen’s drive to further the academic performance and transformation of the UFS.

“To this end, he was instrumental in the improvement of student success and graduation rates, the increase in the percentage of academic staff with doctoral qualifications, the increase in research output, the growth in staff diversity and the growth in third-stream income.”

He said under Jansen’s leadership, the UFS had made great strides in fulfilling its social responsibility to serve the community.

“He was the right leader at the right time for the university.”

Jansen is currently on a mission to raise R100 million in bursaries for students from less fortunate backgrounds and his mission saw a fundraising dinner held recently.

“It is wrong to tell a student who comes from a rural area that there is no money. We can’t send students away because of finances. It is their right to access education,” Jansen said in an interview with News24 on 26 April.

“One of the reasons I am on the road every week is because I don’t want to send students back home because of finances.

“In 1994, they were promised access to education.”

News of Jansen’s departure has been met with mixed reactions and views from students and student movements.

The pro-Jansen group praised him, while the anti-Jansen group expressed their disgust.

“This decision surely comes after the realisation that the majority stakeholders of the university – the students – have lost all confidence in the rector’s leadership of the institution and that he no longer has the capacity to inspire any confidence in us,” the South African Students’ Congress said in a statement through Victor Ngubeni, chairperson.

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