Stellenbosch University (SU) officially opened its Masiphumelele Centre on Thursday 31 August, signifying a significant milestone in the meaningful engagement between existing bursary donors and the recipients of their generosity, SU students. This accomplishment, championed by the Senior Director: Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) at SU, Karen Bruns, actively strengthens student access and success at the University.
Thursday's inauguration ceremony brought together bursary and scholarship donors, including the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, the Crossley Foundation, Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation, the Russel Botman Bursary Fund, Moshal Scholarship Programme, ISFAP, Feenix and Students for a Better Future, along with students and members of the SU community.
SU Registrar, Dr Ronel Retief, one of the speakers at the occasion, said education is the foundation upon which dreams are built, futures are shaped, and potential is realised. “We recognise that for our students to truly thrive, they need more than just financial support; they need an environment where they can grow, flourish, and connect. This Centre embodies that vision, providing a space for meaningful interactions between students, donors and the SU colleagues supporting the various programmes."
Retief extended her gratitude to donors for their unwavering commitment to transform the lives of countless students. "You all are valued partners in the collaborative effort to help our students realise their aspirations. Together we are working towards opportunity, empowerment, and hope."
'Let us succeed'
The isiXhosa phrase 'masiphumelele', meaning 'let us succeed', inspired the name of the Centre, which originated from the efforts of the Development and Alumni Relations Division to extend its services to bursary and scholarship donors. The Masiphumelele Centre was funded through generous contributions from a number of donors.
This revitalised space on Banghoek Road, Stellenbosch, proximate to the engineering, arts and social sciences, law, and science faculties, offers an array of features, including office space, consultation rooms, flexible workspaces for students and donors, an area conducive to guiding conversations and mentorship, and a small workshop room accommodating 12 to 14 individuals.
Bruns emphasised the altruism of bursary donors who wholeheartedly support students' educational pursuits and ambitions. “The Centre represents a significant step towards enhancing the University's service to these critical supporters of the access and success of our students, while also underscoring our commitment to our students' holistic well-being and dignity."
The name 'Masiphumelele Centre' emerged as the clear choice through a survey conducted in May 2023 among bursary recipients, donors and staff who will be invited to use the space. Through sentiment analysis it was determined that students appreciated the unified vision of the University, the SU donors and fellow students to succeed and progress, with one respondent saying, “The Masiphumelele Centre will be for a community of individuals who wish to work together for a better future." Another student said, “Masiphumelele is a call for all people to come together for a common purpose, which is to thrive, as all of us should."
Bruns, added, “The Division takes immense pride in fulfilling its responsibility of facilitating institutional engagement between donors and the beneficiaries of their generosity. The Masiphumelele Centre will be instrumental in creating a physical space for collaboration and a common purpose. As a testament to SU's dedication to nurturing these essential relationships with donors, the Centre is symbolic of both our commitment to a good donor experience and to our student success."
About Development and Alumni Relations (DAR)
The Development and Alumni Relations Division builds relationships, creates awareness and generates support for the University's academic, research and social impact vision. The Division strives to ensure the future success of SU by securing private philanthropic donations and engages donors on the priorities most important to them. Putting donors at the centre of the process, DAR fosters an environment where excellence in student, staff and community interaction can be achieved through philanthropy and corporate funding.