UFS launches new brand

2011-01-27 16:02

Bloemfontein - The University of the Free State on Thursday launched its new brand, as part of efforts to change its image after a 2008 race row at the 108-year-old institution.

"Welcome to the new University of the Free State, thoroughly grounded in its best traditions and proudly ambitious in its strive for academic excellence and human compassion," Rector Jonathan Jansen said in a statement.

The UFS launched an "expansive and intensive" consultation process with staff, alumni, senate, council and others on the image it wanted to project. It had to be inclusive, forward-looking and capture the spirit and essence of a new country and a transforming university.

"One of the fundamental principles of the review of the UFS brand was to balance continuity with change."

Jansen said anybody aware of the new academic and transformation drive at Kovsies (the university's nickname) would be able to see the new values of inclusion and diversity, healing and hope.

UFS council chairperson, Judge Ian van der Merwe said for many the former UFS coat of arms remained a symbol of a time when they were excluded from the university.

"For many others, in particular the youth who has to promote and carry forward the UFS brand in future, it has become old-fashioned and sterile."

Van der Merwe said the Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, and the UFS could no longer have a motto reflecting only Christian values.

Kovsie Alumni chairperson Naudé de Klerk said the first decade after the university's first 100 years of existence posed critical problems.

Modern, retro varsity

"Far greater, however, are the enormous opportunities to develop our alma mater into a world-class university."

De Klerk said the UFS was serving a diverse society. Referring to the new UFS motto, "In Veritate Sapientiae Lux" (In Truth is the Light of Wisdom), De Klerk said prominent alumni had laid strong claim to the retention of the essence of the current motto.

"Light" and "Wisdom" were strong Christian concepts, which also symbolised the endeavours of an academic institution, he said.

De Klerk said the newly-designed coat of arms, which included the motto, reflected a "streamlining".

The motto has developed since 1947 from "Per Fidem Ad Sapientiam" (Through Faith to Wisdom), to "In Deo Sapientiae Lux" (In God is Light of Wisdom), to "In Veritate Sapientiae Lux".

UFS interim student committee spokesperson Modieyi Motholo said the university could now communicate to the rest of the world its refusal to be tied down by the failures of the past.

"The styling of the brand reveals our true nature that we are a modern, retro varsity where the motto of work hard, but party harder, lives on in the hearts of all of our students," she said.

The day's events were brought about by a video that appeared on the internet in 2008, shot by four students living at the now-closed Reitz men's hostel. They filmed themselves initiating a group of cleaners at the university, making them play rugby, drink alcohol and eat food on their hands and knees. It was met with worldwide condemnation and resulted in the four appearing in court and receiving fines.

The hostel was subsequently closed and turned into the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was expected to receive an honorary doctorate from the UFS and open the institute on Thursday afternoon.