Professor Francis Petersen has been appointed as the new vice-chancellor and rector of the University of the Free State (UFS).
Petersen replaces Jonathan Jansen, who stepped down in August.
“It has been a truly participatory and transparent selection process, which has assisted in the council being able to make this decision. The higher education sector has been through a difficult and challenging time during the past few months, and the council is thankful that a leader like Prof Petersen can head the university in 2017 and beyond,” said council chairperson Judge Ian van der Merwe.
Petersen, who is deputy vice-chancellor of Institutional Innovation at the University of Cape Town, went up against Professor Lis Lange, vice-rector of academics at the UFS.
Armed with an impressive academic and business career, Petersen was previously the Dean of Engineering and the Built Environment at UCT. The UFS said Petersen was bringing with him “an extensive experience” in management.
“He has been the executive head of strategy at Anglo American Platinum and head of the department of chemical engineering at the Cape Technikon, now Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He is a member of the UCT council, non-executive director on the board of Pragma Holdings, non-executive director on the board of the Unlimited Group, and chairman of the board of Trustees of the Seedcap (Venture Capital) Trust.
“Among others, he previously served as member on the board of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Advisory Council on Innovation, and the Council of the Academy of Science of South Africa.”
Petersen holds a BEng (Chem Eng), MEng (Metal Eng), and PhD (Eng) degrees from Stellenbosch University and completed a short course on Financial Skills for Executive Management. He is also a recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award for research excellence, and was visiting professor at the now Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
“Petersen has served as an extraordinary professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stellenbosch University, is a regular reviewer of journals, and a member of a range of editorial boards for international journals. He is also a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and a Fellow of both the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the South African Academy of Engineers.”
– African News Agency