“It is with gratitude that I can announce tonight that since April 2007, the University has received very nearly two billion rand in donations, allocations, research contracts and sponsorships. That undoubtedly makes the HOPE Project Africa’s biggest higher education funding campaign.”
These were the words of Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU), in addressing guests at a celebration of the successes of the HOPE Project held on Wednesday night (11 April 2012). The gala event, held in the Conservatoire and attended by business and community leaders, donors, alumni, staff and students, formed the highlight of HOPE Week, a week in which the successes of the HOPE Project, are celebrated campus wide.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prof Botman addressed the media in Cape Town and staff over the lunch break (link).
In his speech, Prof Botman said that surpassing the original goal of R1,75 billion, is remarkable as it was done in the prevailing climate of an economic downturn globally and shrinking state subsidies for higher education worldwide. “It speaks to the power of the idea of hope – that we can achieve the extraordinary by reaching beyond the ordinary.”
He thanked among others, the South African government, the Stellenbosch Trust, the Stellenbosch University SA Foundation in the United Kingdom and the Friends of the University of Stellenbosch Foundation in the United States, the SU Council, major international philanthropic foundations, corporate donors, individuals, those who have made bequests to the University and alumni.
“A record 14 people have given more than R1 million each; but the past two years alone, there have been 2 464 individual donors, which means every gift counts, whatever the amount,” he said.
He also said that alumni tend to support a very important need, “…and that is to provide financially needy students with the same opportunities they had. Last year, 40% of our students received bursary support at Stellenbosch University.”
“As I look back at my first term, I am grateful for the support that has brought us to this point, but standing on the shoulders of giants also enables one to see the challenges that still await us. For the next generation, we are going to have to tackle the challenges of the 21st century head on – and the challenge of sustainability will require quantum leaps in our thinking. In the 21st century, serious efforts are needed worldwide to rectify the damage caused in the 20th century. Energy saving, water security and climate change will all have to enjoy the attention of our best academics and researchers.
“The quantum challenge facing us also involves the further development of our University. Our buildings will have to be adapted to become more sustainable.”
Prof Botman also stated that the University’s carbon footprint will have to become smaller. “The number of vehicles must be reduced; more people must go on foot and move around on bicycles. This will require that we build very strong partnerships with companies in our town, our country and the world, companies that have made sustainability part of their own values and characters, part of their trademarks. Sustainability will become our trademark, and we will forge stronger bonds with others who have the same trademark.”
In his speech, Prof Botman also said that via the HOPE Project, the conversation about Stellenbosch has changed. “We have done so by focussing our core activities on the international development agenda,” and “it is thanks to the efforts of the people of this institution that we are now playing in a different league,” he said.
In this regard Prof Botman pointed out that Stellenbosch is the continent’s number one research university – having the highest weighted research output per fulltime-equivalent academic staff member of all universities in South Africa.
“Stellenbosch University has been building a vast network of international academic collaboration,” he added. “We have agreements in place with around 200 foreign universities. In Africa, we have 122 active collaborative projects in 36 African countries. Involved are 132 African institutions and 363 African collaborators.
“It is with pride that I can say that Stellenbosch University – through the HOPE Project – is a partner in this development. We are contributing relevant knowledge from Africa to make this century the century of Africa. It is through collaboration with other leading African universities that we are solidifying our position as an African knowledge institution of choice.”
- Prof Botman’s speech available here.
- Click here for more information on HOPE Week.
- For more information on the successes of the HOPE Project, read the HOPE Times II, here.