Jonathan Jansen, celeb-rector

By admin
01 March 2013

We chat to the respected Prof who’s recognised wherever he goes and carries his first years’ bags to their residences

No other rector of a university in South Africa has come as close to celebrity status as Jonathan Jansen. Wherever “The Prof” goes he’s accosted by people wanting an interview, a photograph, a chat, his opinion or his autograph.

Getting a half-hour appointment with him is difficult and an hour is almost impossible but after plenty of perseverance and weeks of waiting and asking we’re in the rector’s office on the University of the Free State campus.

As he takes a seat he warns that of all the articles written about him (and there have been many) only one has been good. “So I want to see how good you are.”

Recently he’s been widely quoted on topics such as the matric results, the education dilemma, schools, universities and slipping standards.

But today we’re here to talk about the man – the jovial rector who carries first years’ bags, welcomes students at midnight in his swimming pool and dishes up cabbage stew for parents on open days.

“No, man, I’m boring,” he says at first. “The same wife, same two children, same car.”

But that doesn’t last. Once he gets going he’s happy to talk about all the things that make him South Africa’s best-known head of an academic institution.

Read more of Marida Fitzpatrick’s interview with Professor Jansen in YOU 7 March 2013.

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