Victoria College becomes independent university
On 2 April 1918, the status of Victoria College, which for a few decades had served the country excellently as a truly South African academic institution, was elevated to that of an independent university. Victoria College became Stellenbosch University. The four faculties that existed at the time were Arts, Mathematics and Science, Education and Agriculture.
Faculty of Commerce established
For a small, young university like Stellenbosch in 1925, it was a bold step to establish a Faculty of Commerce, a novelty that was just appearing on the academic landscape. Prior to that, Commercial Science was taught as a subject within the (then) Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. In 1925, only two programmes were offered: a BCom degree and a diploma, DiplCom. The faculty was later renamed Commerce and Administration.
The first 10 students graduated
In 1929, the first 10 students graduated with a BCom degree, and in 1930 the very first DCom was conferred to Mr AWO Bock.
Since then, growth and specialisation in programme offering have increased exponentially. The faculty has five broad undergraduate programmes (with 21 focal areas), five professional bachelor’s programmes, another two with a law focus and one extended degree programme.
Prof CGW Schumann became the dean of the faculty
Prof CGW Schumann, who had been a lecturer in commercial subjects at Stellenbosch since 1924, became the dean of the faculty. As dean from 1935 until his retirement in 1960, Prof Schumann contributed significantly to the faculty’s development. He was instrumental in, inter alia, establishing the Bureau for Economic Research in 1944, and the extramural division in Bellville (in 1958), which offered evening classes to BCom students.
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) was founded
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) was founded in 1944 and is Stellenbosch University’s oldest research body. Known for being independent, objective and adept, the Bureau’s most important functions include gathering economic information that eases decision-making for the business community. Regular surveys produce business confidence indexes and provide forecasts.
The Bureau was initially accommodated in the CGW Schumann Building, but moved from there, first to rental offices off campus and eventually to the modified old Conservatoire Building in 2012.
BCom III class of 1945
During World War II (1939 to 1945), when South Africa participated in the war on the side of the British, there was considerable support for the anti-war faction at Stellenbosch. Despite the turbulent times, higher education continued and a steady stream of students graduated. The photo shows the BCom III class of 1945, with Prof CGW Schumann in the first row (centre).
Lectures for the first students at the new Extramural Division began
Lectures began for the first students at the new Extramural Division, initially in classrooms at Bellville High School and, from 1964, in the division’s new building close to the Karl Bremer Hospital. Over the years, these became MBA courses and eventually the SU Business School. However, the Extramural Division later closed down.
Van der Sterr Building erected
A large bequest from the estate of a Dutch-born surveying pioneer in South Africa, Dr WC van der Sterr, and his wife had made the erection of the large Van der Sterr Building possible. Inaugurated in 1960, the building initially housed, inter alia, the Psychology Department, which at the time included industrial psychology. The latter department later moved to the former Education Faculty Building (erected in 1913).
University of Stellenbosch Business School
In 1964 the University of Stellenbosch Business School began as a small, local school that offered postgraduate business programmes. Its new Bellville Park campus was commissioned in 1986 and the School moved from temporary lecture rooms behind the Karl Bremer Hospital to a four-storey building on the new satellite campus. Further expansion and development followed later. Today, Stellenbosch Business School is a leading business school with three international accreditations.
Stellenbosch hospital building demolished
The historic former Stellenbosch hospital building was demolished to make way for a seven-storey building in 1977, named after faculty pioneer Prof CGW Schumann. It became the flagship of the faculty and still houses the dean’s office and various academic departments.
Faculty’s name changed
In 1995 the faculty’s name was changed to the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
The Department of Public Administration and Political Studies becomes the School of Public Leadership (SPL)
The Department of Public Administration and Political Studies had various name changes before it became the School of Public Management and Planning (in 1999) and eventually, in 2000, the School of Public Leadership (SPL). SPL, the first academic environment at SU to launch undergraduate diploma programmes, attracts students in the field of sustainability, good governance and entrepreneurship. Prof Zwelinzima Ndevu is the present director. His predecessors include Dr Ben Vosloo, Professors Werner Pfeifenberger, Willie Esterhuyse, Hans Gildenhuys, Erwin Schwella, Fanie Cloete, Kobus Muller and Johan Burger.
Postgraduate diploma in the management of HIV and Aids launched
A postgraduate diploma in the management of HIV and Aids, a world first, was launched with 65 students in 2001. Since then, students from at least 55 countries have obtained the qualification. Such was its success, that it led to the establishment of the Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management in 2003 under the leadership of founding director Prof Jan du Toit. The Centre now also offers master’s and PhD programmes in HIV and Aids management. In 2018, Prof Du Toit was succeeded by Dr Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola.
The double-storey Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management, one of the latest faculty buildings, was erected in 2012.
The Graduate School of Economic and Management Sciences (GEM) launched
The Graduate School of Economic and Management Sciences (GEM), that offers a full-time residential doctoral programme, was established in 2014. The initiative was further expanded the following year with the Graduate School for Staff in Economic and Management Sciences (STEM).
Van der Sterr Building catches fire
A fire caused great damage to a large part of the Van der Sterr Building in February 2015, the year in which the faculty celebrated its 90th anniversary. The building was subsequently modernised, extended and joined to the adjacent Accountancy and Statistics Building (until 1992 known as the HF Verwoerd Building). The opening of the ‘new’ Van der Sterr was celebrated in 2017. It now houses the School of Accountancy, the departments of Statistics and Actuarial Science as well as Logistics, and the Centre for Statistical Consultation (CSC).
From one staff member in 1925, this faculty expanded to 338 permanently employed staff in 2017, and from a mere 15 students in 1925 to over 8 700 in 2017. By March 2017, altogether 56 546 qualifications had been conferred. More than one in five Stellenbosch University alumni are former students of this faculty – the university’s largest one since 1991.
The photo features former deans of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at its 90th anniversary celebration in 2015. F.l.t.r. are SU's COO, Prof Stan du Plessis; Prof Johan Matthee; Prof Estian Calitz; and Prof Johann de Villiers.
Prof Ingrid Woolard becomes dean
Prof Ingrid Woolard, the first female dean in the history of the faculty, was appointed.
BCom degree students graduate
The first-ever students to receive a BCom degree in International Business graduated in December 2019. The 4-year programme includes an exchange semester at a partner university abroad. It is a pioneer in business education at undergraduate level and delivers graduates that are equipped to be role players in the international knowledge economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic happens
In March 2020, SU suspended classes and eventually close its campuses due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency remote teaching, learning and assessment (ERTLA) and augmented remote teaching, learning and assessment (ARTLA) became part of students’ vocabulary. Lecturers and students learned how to use new tools overnight. SU stayed the course amidst all the uncertainty and students were able to complete the 2020 academic year in 2020.
Data Science degree launched
A multi-disciplinary undergraduate degree programme in Data Science was launched to address the demand for graduates with highly developed data science skills and knowledge. It is offered in four faculties, including the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. After completing the 4-year degree, graduates are able to continue with a Master’s degree in their chosen data-rich field.