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Prof Jansen addressed Knight-Hennessy scholars about the history and integrity of SA universities
Author: E Els
Published: 28/08/2023

​​​​​Eleven Knight-Hennessy scholars and five staff members from Stanford University visited the Faculty of Education on 21 August. They were hosted by the Office of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor of Education, Education Policy Studies.

All Knight-Hennessy scholars are Stanford University graduate students, who join Knight-Hennessy Scholars in addition to enrolling in a graduate degree program at any of Stanford's seven schools. 

The Knight-Hennessy Scholar Programme cultivates and supports a multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students from across Stanford University and delivers engaging experiences that prepare graduates to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders who address complex challenges facing the world.

Prof Jansen welcomed these scholars and shared about the history of South African universities as well as the corruption and integrity within them.  He said that all universities over the world have corruption, but that there is a stage when corruption becomes epidemic and that is when corruption becomes a way of doing. According to Jansen there is either a lack of capacity and/or a lack of integrity which caused the corruption. He mentioned that a university like SU has the capacity and safeguards in place to stop corruption, but that this is not the case for many other universities in South Africa. He referred to another SA university where there were assassination attempts on the Vice Chancellor because he tried to stop the corruption within the institution. “Something should've happened in the institution over the years to become like this. It did not happen overnight." Jansen asked scholars what they would do if they found a big amount of money without anyone seeing them. Would they take it for themselves or take it to the police? The scholars had mixed emotions about this and didn't feel comfortable with either option although some of them said they would hand it to the police without doubt. He then further asked if people's right and wrong perceptions are based on what others do and if they will cheat if they see others do it. Jansen said that people take their cue from leadership and that capacity can be restored quickly, but that integrity takes time. “We have a duty to make our voices heard. You must model what you want others to do when you are in leadership" Jansen said. He further added that when a leader makes a mistake, he or she must admit that they were wrong and apologise for it.

The visiting scholars originally are from different parts of the USA like Las Vegas, New Mexico, Florida, Texas, etc. as well as from Taiwan and Israel. They are pursuing a variety of degrees like Medicine, Engineering, Computer Science and Law amongst others.

Photo: Prof Jonathan Jansen and Delecia Davids (lecturer at the Faculty of Education) with some of the Knight Hennessy scholars and staff.