NWU's Prof Fika pays tribute to former rector
Prof Tjaart van der Walt is no stranger on the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University (NWU). This legendary and formidable man celebrated his 83rd birthday on 15 February.
Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg, campus rector, formed a delegation to congratulate Prof Tjaart, who was campus rector from 1977 to 1987. He and his wife, Babie, currently reside in Huis Eikelaan in Potchefstroom.
Prof Tjaart started his tertiary education in 1951 at the former PU for CHE and served as chairman of the Student Council in 1956 and 1957. He married his university sweetheart Babie in 1958.
After completing his studies in Potchefstroom he went to the Netherlands to do his doctorate under the supervision of the world renowned Prof Herman Ridderbos, at the John Calvin Academy in Kampen.
Prof Tjaart was later called to the Theological School of the Reformed Churches in South Africa. Shortly after his confirmation as professor in 1969 he was appointed as rector of the Theological School for the term 1971-1973. In 1977 he was appointed by the Council of the PU for CHE, upon recommendation of the Senate, as rector and vice-chancellor of the university – a position which he held until 1987.
Domestically Prof Tjaart was widely acclaimed in the Afrikaans community and in university circles. He served on the councils of several universities, among which Visa University. He was also chancellor of the of the University of Bophuthatswana, member of the board of Sankorp, alternative member of Perskor, member of the South Africa Foundation and chairman of the FAK. In 1981, Prof Tjaart was appointed as member of the board of Sanlam. He was later appointed as executive deputy chairman of Sanlam and its subsidiaries, and in 1989 as chairman.
In 1992 he was appointed as South Africa’s ambassador to Bophuthatswana. According to him, this allowed him to pursue his calling in a unique manner by facilitating the relationship between this “homeland” and South Africa during challenging times.
In 1996 he once again responded to his dormant call to ministry. That was what he was preparing for from the very beginning, and after many years of inputs in other circles, this would be a fitting conclusion to a career in service. The Reformed Church Wapadrant called him for a special task in the congregation, and he accepted the call without hesitation.
As always, he continued to hone his knowledge of New Testament Greek and Theology during his stay in Wapadrant. The Faculty of Theology subsequently appointed him as extraordinary professor in New Testament and Greek – an appointment which he has held since 2000.
Together Prof Tjaart and Babie mourned the death of two of their children, and together they are dealing with the longing after their only daughter emigrated to Australia.
According to Prof Fika, Prof Tjaart will always be one of the university's tallest trees. “Congratulations on your birthday. The NWU salutes you!”
Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg, congratulates Prof Tjaart van der Walt with his 83rd birthday.
Students from the Kasteel ladies residence are seen here with a painting of Prof Tjaart van der Walt. They were part of the delegation who visited Prof Tjaart on his birthday and entertained him with their singing. They are at the back, from left to right: Jeané Myburgh, Jamila Boonzaaier, Hlengiwe Dube, Arnoldi Pienaar, Letisha Harmse and Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg. In front is Lauraine Geldenhuys, Nadia Terblanche, Daniel Engelbrecht (conductor) and Imké Rheeder.