Academic year officially opened
“This campus of the North-West University is like a tree with its roots deeply embedded in its heritage with its rich history and character. The winds of change can blow, but the roots will keep the tree upright.” This was the message of Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg during the official opening of the academic year of the Potchefstroom Campus.
During the event he was also installed as acting rector with the ceremonial gowning. He was appointed as acting campus rector from 1 January 2016.
Prof Van Rensburg will help to manage the transition to a new management model of the NWU in 2016, and called it the NWU’s migration year.
He described this transition as a relay race that started last year with the planning of the new management model of the NWU. He said that the process of change will only be effective if the relay baton is handed over correctly. “Therefore there is a major responsibility on everyone’s shoulders, be it as an academic or a support staff member. We have to run at full speed and see to it that the baton is handed over at the right time and at the right speed.
“We must never allow our core business to suffer as a result. We have to do better. This year’s enrolment of first-years is only 30 students away from our target of 4 592. Of this group, 70 per cent is Afrikaans speaking and 30 per cent is English speaking.
“We must be doing something right if so many students pass three other universities in the country to study here. Only 23 per cent of them come from North-West, the rest come from other provinces.
“We are an open, friendly and welcoming campus. We are NOT narrow-minded or isolated, and we are not ashamed of who we are. We have a wonderful value system and we are wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Here everyone is aware of their vocation and we do not work only to receive a salary – we do what we are called to do.”
Prof Van Rensburg said that people who describe the campus as lily white have not been there yet. “Those who say that we are racists have hidden agendas. Yes, we also have some bad apples, but we have mechanisms in place to address those people and we do that without hesitation.”
Prof Van Rensburg said that the NWU must build on its unitary character and that everyone must be proud of the three-campus model. The NWU must build on its multilingualism and must stick to its principles. “Where the greater majority of students are Afrikaans, it must be maintained. If we want to find the best lecturers and they can speak only English, the lectures have to be interpreted.
“It is also our duty to improve students’ multilingualism in this manner.”
“The application of the new structures will be done on academic and support level from the bottom upwards. Deans know a lot, school directors know more, but it is the administrators who know best and those are the people we have to consult. If they see mistakes, management has to go back to the drawing board.
“The same will be done with specialists in the support departments.”
Prof Van Rensburg said that the student life must maintain its own identity and operate with interculturality. “There has to be more ‘cross-pollination’ between the three campuses.”
He also said that staff and students will have to learn to observe “correctly”. “Trust your trained mind’s eye and do not look at matters on the surface. We must rather have a panoramic view in order to look at matters deeply, widely and as a whole.
At this event the vice-chancellor, Prof Dan Kgwadi, also called on staff and students to embrace the change for everyone’s long term survival. “Change is necessary to lead us into the future.
“We will continue to welcome all languages and cultures and Afrikaans will still occupy an important position at the NWU. However, we will also have to continue to develop a more integrated student life.”