Bloemfontein - Former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and renowned author and News24 columnist Max du Preez were on Thursday awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Free State. The two donned their red gowns and walked onto stage to receive their doctorates. Du Preez and Manuel embrace after receiving their doctorates. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24) Manuel, who has received numerous doctorates, was accompanied by his wife, Maria Ramos.After the ceremony, the former minister said his doctorate comes with challenges and responsibilities."This is a great university and I think it has a great vice chancellor and chancellor and in that context it is humbling. It places an obligation on us to continue the spirit of service," he said.He also said the country had great potential."It is not just a doctorate but it is the spirit in which it is given," he said.Du Preez said receiving his doctorate from the university gave him hope for the future."It is the university of my home province... the sense of transformation and the spirit of optimism that I have experienced today [Thursday] makes me believe in our country again. I am [more] hopeful today than I was," said Du Preez.The university also honoured Antony Osler and Marguerite van der Merwe with chancellor's medals at the ceremony.