UFS' Jansen steps down: 'I have always been ambitious'

UFS rector Jonathan Jansen (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)
UFS rector Jonathan Jansen (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Bloemfontein – Anyone who believes transformation is easy has never tried to change an old university, former University of Free State (UFS) vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen has said.

He was sometimes frustrated with the pace of transformation at the university, he said in a message posted on UFS’ website.

Jansen stepped down as UFS rector and vice chancellor on Wednesday. He was appointed to the post in July 2009.

Century-old sites like the UFS’ Bloemfontein Campus had deeply-ingrained core beliefs, values, and practices, he said.

"It is difficult. You will get blowback. You will get bad press. You will, sadly, lose the support of some people. Some believe the university is changing too fast while others will tell you it is not changing fast enough."

Jansen said he had always been an ambitious leader and he knew most of his goals would be met.

"I do not sit around pondering regrets, only remembering with gratitude the things we could achieve together," he said.

Free education

The 59-year-old raised concerns about the funding of the 26 public universities in the country, given students’ demands for free education.

"The economy is not growing and the costs of running a modern university are escalating. The delays in government commission reports on tuition fees do not help, and there seems no urgency 'higher up' to make the tough decisions.

"We have to ensure free education for the poorest students – that is the position of your senior management – but we also need to guarantee the financial sustainability of our universities."

Jansen will become a Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University in the US this month.

Professor Nicky Morgan, current vice-rector: operations at the UFS, will act in Jansen’s position.

Morgan held a similar position at the Central University of Technology and the University of Johannesburg. He was interim vice chancellor of Walter Sisulu University, a post to which he was appointed in November 2004.

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