It is the hard work of staff – academic and support services – that led to the success of Stellenbosch University's HOPE Project. "And for that I must thank you," said Prof Russel Botman, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, on Wednesday (11 April) at a celebration event held for staff.
More than 250 staff members attended the event that was held in the amphitheatre of the Conservatoire – the first in a series of events to celebrate the successes of the HOPE Project. Personnel from the Millitary Academy, Bellville Park and Tygerberg campusses followed the proceedings via live streaming.
Staff were treated to hotdogs and juice while a jazz band from the Conservatoire kept everyone entertained.
Prof Botman already started formulating ideas around the HOPE Project in 2007 and in July 2010 it was officially launched. "It was in dire economic times that I had to ask people for money, but I could quote from your reports and research to show that Stellenbosch can bring excellence, commitment and integrity to the table. This is the stories that brought us this far. Instead of cheque books closing, they opened. It is thanks to your hard work that people across the world are talking about Stellenbosch University."
He announced that since its launch the HOPE Project has exceeded its target of R1,75 billion. More than 14 individuals have also given R1 million from their own pocket to SU.
Prof Botman shared some of the academic successes of the HOPE Project with the audience, telling them that a total of 186 master's degrees and 42 doctorates were awarded in four of the 30 HOPE Project initiatives.
"This year alone it is expected that 31 doctoral candidates recruited by the African Doctoral Academy (also a HOPE Project initiative), will receive their degrees." Prof Botman emphasised that SU is now an institution that looks to the future and also produce students who are the future. "We can not just work for ourselves, but we must work for the next generation. SU provides leadership on how to think of the future," he said.
One of the biggest challenges for SU, said Prof Botman is to improve our diversity. This is one of the University's strategic goals, which also includes the expanding the University's knowledge base and promoting student success. "We must deliver the best students who will become innovators. We must not only train workers, but job creators."
Sustainability is also an important strategic objective. "Therefore I was challenged to give up my parking for a month. (Raffle tickets are being sold at by Admin B to students and staff who want to win his parking spot.) I will be travelling with the shuttle or ride the MATIE bike and walk in support of sustainability. This is the wisdom of the next generation," Prof Botman said.
Staff and students at the Faculty of Health Sciences also celebrated the successes of the HOPE Project at a combined lunch event in the Tygerberg Student Centre.
The event kicked off with staff and students putting their hand and foot prints on a big HOPE banner, indicating their support for this special initiative of Prof Botman.
According to ms Jo-Ann Bate, Tygerberg Student Council member for community interaction, awareness was raised thanks to students being able to participate in the celebrations. “Students were given the opportunity to become part of the HOPE Project in another more interactiveway,” she said.
- Caption: Staff members of the Faculty of AgriSciences all weared green at the event.