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Jonathan Jansen to step down as UFS vice chancellor

University of Free State vice chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen will step down from his post at the end of August to take up an invitation as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Stanford University in the United States.

Judge Ian van der Merwe, chairperson of the university council, said the fellowship which was awarded to Jansen earlier this year was an opportunity for him to further advance his career as an internationally renowned academic in education.

“Professor Jansen’s departure is a great loss for the university, but the council accepts his decision to step down and pursue his academic career as well as other opportunities.”

He said the council was grateful for the vision and the inspirational leadership that Jansen provided during his tenure at the UFS.

“He has led the university through difficult and complex times – from after the Reitz incident up until the recent student protest actions. He brought stability and respect for the university – nationally as well as internationally,” Van der Merwe said.

He added that Jansen was instrumental in the improvement of student success and graduation rates, the increase in the percentage of academic staff with doctoral qualifications, the increase in research outputs, the growth in staff diversity, and the growth in third-stream income.

He said that Jansen had played a significant part in developing the UFS as a place where the embrace of diversity and the integration of the university provided a backdrop for academic excellence.

“Under his leadership, the UFS made great strides in fulfilling its social responsibility to serve the community. He was the right leader at the right time for the university,” he said.

Professor Jansen was appointed vice chancellor on July 1 2009, and his term of office was extended for another five years by the council on 1 July 2014.

In a statement on Monday, the vice chancellor said that the decision to vacate his position had been a difficult one.

“I leave on my own terms, and without any regrets, but with boundless gratitude to all of those who have helped me become a better leader every day in this job,” Jansen said.

“I will miss immensely the students of our university, many of whom moved seamlessly from campus through our home and our lives over the past seven years.”

He said it has always been his plan not to stay longer than seven years at the institution.

“With the renewal of my five-year contract in 2014, I again informed the leadership of the university council that I would not stay beyond an additional two years (that is, seven years) as academic leader of this great institution of higher learning,” he said.

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Prega Govender
Prega Govender is the Mail & Guardians education editor. He was a journalist at the Sunday Times for almost 20 years before joining the M&G in May 2016. He has written extensively on education issues pertaining to both the basic and higher education sectors.

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