Stellenbosch University (SU) awarded 5 720 degrees, certificates and diplomas at eight graduation ceremonies in the Coertzenburg Centre in December 2017. That is 420 qualifications more than in December 2016, and 700 more than in December 2015. The December 2017 total includes 142 doctoral and 545 Master's degrees.
Prof Wim de Villiers, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, delivered the welcoming address at six of the graduation ceremonies, while the Chancellor, Dr Johann Rupert, welcomed guests and students at two ceremonies.
Prof Wim de Villiers:
- “Like a tree that gets new leaves for the 100th time, Stellenbosch University's Centenary (in 2018) heralds a new beginning, and at the same time an acknowledgement of the growth, hard work and important lessons of the past 100 years."
- “Our achievements – of which there were many – we will undoubtedly celebrate. However, there were also serious challenges and mistakes. It's important that we acknowledge these – as we indeed already have done and will continue to do – in order for us to apply on the road ahead what we learnt from the past."
- “All the tests you wrote, the assignments you completed, all that lab work and examinations have come together in something great and wonderful. If you hang on to that incremental approach, you will achieve even greater things in life.
- “Today marks the culmination of an incredible journey for our new graduates, and the beginning of another. They have come so far, but unfortunately, difficult financial circumstances might prevent some from entering the next stage of their lives. We have launched a fundraising campaign to help them overcome the final hurdle. The campaign is called #SU99. We are overwhelmed by the almost R999 999 that has been raised thus far"
- “Our own Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is a recognised hub of global excellence in many areas and has been the launching pad for a number of ground-breaking initiatives. So, the qualification that our students will receive today, will enable them to stand tall on the world stage. And it (ground-breaking research with social impact) results from staff and students at the University always identifying problems and looking for solutions."
- “The biological clock is involved in many aspects of our complex physiology. A large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock. So, since this discovery, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with significant implications for our health and wellbeing – and some of that research is taking place at this very University.
- “South African schools face huge challenges, which means that unfortunately, some learners don't receive the education they need to gain entry into university. The talent development and university preparation programmes in our Faculty of Education are aimed at addressing this problem."
- “Stellenbosch also makes an impact as the only university in the country to offer Military Science."
- “The unique relationship between Stellenbosch University and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) represents a strategic alliance to contribute to peace and security on our continent."
- “The Faculty of AgriSciences always comes up with interesting PhD's, which usually make the news headlines – just what one can expect from doctorates in biltong, Karoo lamb, pomegranates, milk and honey ... I mean, really! And let's not even make mention of bees and ticks! That's what you'd refer to as research with bite!"
- “A word about the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. They have so many graduates that they have two ceremonies."
- “To come to university is an important stage in life for many … but there are often significant stumbling blocks to overcome. Being physically challenged is something that many of our students face."
- “SU strives to ensure that being physically challenged is not a barrier for a student to gain admission. We have had students who are physically challenged on campus as far back as 1970."
“I am glad to say that this year, the Disability Unit within our Centre for Student Counselling and Development is celebrating its 10th anniversary – that's a decade of helping to level the playing field for our students who are physically challenged."
Dr Johann Rupert:
- “We trust that the qualification you have gained will bring you great benefits."
- “For those of you who will be involved with accountancy and auditing, do all in your power to ensure that integrity, responsibility and accountability triumphs at all times, especially in view of the fact that you are in the front line against dishonesty, corruption and self-enrichment."
- “I never said radical economic transformation is theft."
- In congratulating the new graduates, Dr Rupert encouraged them to work on “radical economic growth that is distributed fairly. “
- “Carry on learning because if you stop you will be left behind. Stay curious and have empathy with your fellow human beings and the planet. With empathy and curiosity, you will go a long way."
- “Remember what you have learned, but forget it all. In five to ten years' time most of what we know now will be totally irrelevant."
If you want to listen to the full welcoming addresses, click here.