Stellenbosch University (SU) has received one of its largest individual
donations ever – an amount of R194.6 million. This huge gift came in the form
of a bequest by the late Mr DW (Dirk) Ackermann, an engineer by profession.
“An investment in the future of a new generation of Maties.” This is how
Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, describes the bequest
to the University. “It is the definitely one of the most significant donations
the University has ever very received from one individual to date. We are very grateful
and most appreciative of this bequest from Mr Ackermann,” he added.
Mr Ackermann, who passed away some years ago, bequeathed R8.4 million to
the Stellenbosch University in the form of a share portfolio in 2006.
“The value of these shares has in the meantime grown from R8.4 million
to R194.6 million. Subject to the conditions of the bequest from Mr Ackermann,
this gift recently came to vest at full value at the University,” explained Mr Hugo Steyn of SU’s
Development and Alumni Relations Division.
As stated in Mr Ackermann’s will, the University will use this bequest
to establish the DW Ackermann Bursary Fund to benefit deserving students in the
electronic and electrical engineering disciplines, invest the capital
accordingly, and use the annual income for bursaries, which are to be awarded
in terms of the criteria set out in his will.
“The fund will be managed as an endowment fund and will be sustainably
used to benefit many students in future. The funds will be available soon and,
after consultation with the faculty, we should be able to award bursaries from
2018,” said Steyn.
Total donations to SU in 2016 were up 53% from
the previous year and also exceeded donations received in 2014.
“The assumption that all SU students are from
affluent backgrounds is incorrect. Substantially more than a third of our most
recent graduates received some form of financial assistance during their
studies,” added De Villiers. “And it is fascinating to see how this has changed
over time. In 2000, 28% of Maties received some form of financial assistance. By
2014, this was up to 38% of our students. And last year, 41% of our students
were from the so-called missing middle, i.e. from households with a combined
income of R600 000 or less per annum.”
At the beginning of 2017, SU received R1,1 million
in philanthropic donations specifically earmarked for addressing financial need
among students. These donations were aligned with the purpose and role of the
‘Register All’ bursaries administered by the SRC.
SU set three new records in the 2016 academic
year. The final figures show that the University awarded a total of 8 348 qualifications,
5,6% more than the year before. These included 1 468 master’s degrees –
the most ever awarded by SU. The same goes for the number of doctoral degrees
awarded, namely 278, of which 47% (over against 39% in 2015) went to black
African, coloured, Indian and Asian candidates. .
“This confirms SU’s valuable contribution as a
national asset and it sends a strong signal to potential donors who have an
interest in continued student success, and a desire to see a consistent output
of graduates for the economy. Recent research also pointed out that we have
done well in retaining donors and increasing the amount of money they are
giving us,” commented De Villiers.