“A university is, par excellence, a
place where dreams are pursued and realised. Every year, thousands of
students come to us with big dreams for themselves, their families and
the broader community. Our role is to welcome those students and,
through higher education, help them achieve their dreams.
this end, we need well-equipped buildings in which excellent learning
and teaching can take place. We need smart buildings, green buildings,
buildings of the future."
This is according to Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU).
at a sod-turning ceremony for a new centre for learning and teaching on
Stellenbosch campus on Thursday 8 February, De Villiers explained that
“despite great advances in information and communication technology,
there is still a need for human interaction. Personal interaction
between lecturer and student as well as between students from different
backgrounds remains essential when it comes to learning together and
from one another. And for that, one needs suitable buildings. At the
same time, you need to have access to cyberspace so that knowledge can
freely flow in and out."
Coinciding with SU's Centenary year,
the official commencement of construction on the new centre is
particularly significant. “The University was founded in 1918 thanks to a
generous donation from Jannie Marais. And since then, students have
come to Stellenbosch to realise their dreams. Initially, the University
focused on a particular community in the context of that time. But
having broadened access over time, we now proudly serve the entire
country and all its people. And the new building that will rise on this
site will create the capacity to make the University even more
Work on the centre, which will accommodate more
students than any other current teaching space on campus, started in
October 2017 and is set to be completed towards the end of 2019.
Jan Mouton Learning Centre
the event, De Villiers gave special recognition to the contributions of
Mr Jannie Mouton, an SU alumnus, long-standing donor, and founder of
the investment company PSG Group.
Mouton not only established the
Jannie Mouton PSG bursary loan programme in 2007, assisting nearly 100
students to date, but in 2016 also contributed an astonishing R50
million towards the building costs of the new teaching and learning
centre. At that stage, it was the biggest philanthropic gift made to SU
by a single donor.
“Mouton's philanthropic donations to the
University amount to a vast sum of money. But perhaps even more
important is the fact that his donations have benefited students on the
ground, and have promoted their success. This is typical of his
donations to SU and his financial assistance to students: He harnesses
the power of higher education to change lives, to change the world.
who have met him know that he does not chase after fame and honour. He
is not fond of the spotlight or the red carpet. Unsurprisingly,
therefore, as the largest individual donor to this project, he requested
that the building bear the name of his father – Johannes Jacobus Mouton
or, in short, Jan Mouton," De Villiers said.
Earlier, Mouton said
that, to him, the donation was more than an investment in a
contemporary learning space that will enrich students' learning
experiences. “It also represents an investment in Stellenbosch
University's future and continued excellence as a world-class
institution of higher learning."
“My father had a profound impact
on my life, and I have the highest regard for him. That is why I
requested the University to name the centre after him. In addition to my
father, I was also personally encouraged by Mr Warren Buffet to make a
positive difference in society – for the benefit of the next
Unique features of the centre
between the Langenhoven student centre (or the Neelsie, as it is
affectionately known) and the Polymer Science building, the Jan Mouton
Learning Centre will have a low-carbon footprint, including a greywater
system that will serve the ablutions. The infrastructure will be readied
for a future photovoltaic roof panel installation, while rain and
groundwater will be harvested and stored.
The centre will boast
an atrium and terraced seating that will create light and flow,
providing a welcoming place for students while they tackle the latest
theories and concepts. Group-work classrooms respectively seating 350,
270 and 150 will provide the flexibility for lecturers and students to
adapt their environment to facilitate discussion and teamwork.
circulation spaces dotted with pause areas for interaction will connect
the auditorium and computer classrooms. This will minimise congestion
and promote an effective learning and teaching space. A gather-and-share
communal space adjacent to the main rooms will accommodate breakaway
discussions and peer-to-peer interaction. An undercover walkway will
link the centre with other campus buildings, and a restaurant will offer
meals to keep students sustained and eager to learn.
Parking will be provided in the basement.
Villiers also acknowledged the contributions by the Department of
Higher Education and Training and other donors who have helped make the
project a reality.
- In addition to the Jan Mouton Learning
Centre, the Executive Committee of Council recently approved the names
of two other SU buildings: The new residence on Tygerberg campus will be
named “Nkosi Johnson House" in honour of this HIV/Aids campaigner, who
died at the age of 12. The new building that will house the Information
Technology Division, in turn, will be called “Information and
Communication Technology" (“Inligting- en Kommunikasietegnologie" in
Afrikaans, and “Ubuchwepheshe Bolwazi Nonxibelelwano" in isiXhosa).
University is also engaged in a transformation process in respect of SU
public symbols and spaces, which includes a naming process.
MORE ABOUT JAN MOUTON
Like his son Jannie, Jan Mouton Sr also studied at SU.
youngest of seven children, he was a first-generation student who knew
suffering and, after finishing school, went to work to earn enough money
to pay for his studies. At SU, he played for the first rugby team and
was a resident of Dagbreek. He obtained the degree BComm in 1941 and a
postgraduate qualification in education in 1942.
After a short
stint as teacher in Groblershoop, he became a shopkeeper in Carnarvon,
where he was well known in agricultural cooperative circles. Here,
Jannie Mouton Jr worked for his father during holidays. Mouton Sr had a
great interest in shares, and Mouton Jr soon caught on.
Mouton Sr was very popular in Carnarvon and served as mayor for many years, reaching out to various communities in town.
He later moved to Pretoria, where he worked in agricultural management.
He passed away in 1975.
Photo 1: Jannie Mouton can be seen here with family members: Engela Olivier (sister), Jan Mouton (son) Deidre Mouton (wife) Piet Mouton (son), Charité Volkwyn (daughter).
Photo 2: Prof Wim de Villiers, George Steyn, SU Council Chairperson and Jannie Mouton.
Photographer: Anina Fourie.