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FMHS ushers in a new era with the unveiling of Faculty Charter
Author: Florence de Vries
Published: 14/10/2019

Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) today unveiled its Faculty Charter – a first for a faculty of the institution.

Said Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean of the FMHS: “Today, this 63-year old Faculty steps into a new era. Through this Charter we acknowledge where we have come from, but more critically, we commit to ongoing transformation guided by the values of our Faculty and institution, and those enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa.

The FMHS Charter, which took more than 18 months to finalise, is a pledge by its staff and students to create inclusive, fair and friendly environments in every aspect of daily interactions. It serves as a guide for behaviour and an instrument to assist in holding everyone accountable for their actions.

“As a dynamic entity, we lead the way in expressing our commitment to change. Our Faculty strives to build an institutional culture that welcomes, celebrates and supports the development of a diverse body of students and staff. I have no doubt that the facilitation of our onward journey towards personal and institutional transformation will continue to produce benefits for everyone involved," said Volmink.

SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers welcomed the launch of the FMHS Charter: “It strengthens our aspiration of being a transformed and integrated academic community that celebrates critical thinking, promotes debate and is committed to democracy, human rights and social justice."

The Charter was developed under the auspices of the FMHS Dean's Advisory Committee on Transformation (DACT), established in 2016. The Charter encapsulates the faculty's commitment to celebrating all forms of diversity and inclusion on the Tygerberg Campus and the cultivation of empowering environments in both the academic and clinical settings. The Charter recognises the importance of all its stakeholders and pledges, among other things, to promote mutual respect, advance human dignity, acknowledge the lived experiences of the communities it serves, engage in ethically sound research and protect the environment.

Ms Khairoonisa Foflonker, chairperson of the Faculty Charter task team, said the Charter had been developed through a series of meaningful and robust engagements with staff and students at various points. “Despite healthy and respectful disagreements, we left every meeting with consensus. Students and colleagues engaged with the format and content of the Charter in a manner that reflected the values of inclusivity, integrity and compassion."

The FMHS Charter artwork, which depicts the 'many hands within a hand' symbol all over the Tygerberg Campus, was completed with the assistance of SU's institutional visual redress committee and specifically Prof Elmarie Constandius of the SU's Department of Visual Arts, who also serves on the committee. “The overarching message behind the many hands within a hand symbol is that of connectivity and collaboration and I think it bodes well for the future of this institution," said Constandius.

Click here to read the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Charter.

Caption: Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dr Ronel Retief, Khairoonisa Foflonker and Ascentia Seboko.

Photo credit: Wilma Stassen