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 Prof. Jonathan Jansen

Position: Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State
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Qualifications: BSc from UWC in the mid-1970s. An internationally renowned expert in education, in 2009 he was the first black Rector and Vice-Chancellor appointed in UFS’s history
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Biography

 Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Professor Jonathan Jansen, obtained his BSc from UWC in the mid-1970s. An internationally renowned expert in education, in 2009 he was the first black Rector and Vice-Chancellor appointed in UFS’s history.
Professor Jansen is known for his strong views on transformation, peaceful reconciliation and unity, which he has pursued in earnest at UFS. Despite setbacks like the notorious Reitz Four video incident, under Jansen’s leadership, this former bastion of conservative Afrikaner learning is fast becoming a model of integration in  South Africa. 
Prof Jansen achieved his undergraduate education at the University of the Western Cape (BSc), his teaching credentials at UNISA (HED, BEd) and his postgraduate education in the USA (MS, Cornell; PhD, Stanford). Prof Jansen was a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University  (2007-2008).
Prof Jansen attended UWC in the mid-1970s, when UWC was just a college in the shadow of the old CRC building next door. He remembers clearly how his understanding of UWC started to change, first with the courageous speech of Jakes Gerwel when he declared the institution “the home of the left”; then a bold presentation on the politics of liberation by Allan Boesak; and finally when the university opened its doors to all students and not simply those designated ‘coloured’.
He believes UWC has undergone great academic transformation, from an ethnic institution to arguably the best research performer in the group of historically black universities and now comfortably among the leading universities in South Africa. “The transformation has been remarkable. It is no longer necessary for UWC to go begging under the cloak of disadvantage as I see in the public sphere,” he says.
“UWC defied the apartheid project in every way and has now become a proud institution. There can be  no more satisfying rebuttal of our dehumanising and unequal history in higher education and broader society.”
In recognition of his contribution to education Prof Jansen has received honorary doctorates in education from the United Kingdom and the USA, including one from the University of Edinburgh. Prof Jansen has published several books, is a columnist in leading newspapers in the country and has a large social  media following.
Prof Jansen is married to Grace Jansen and they have two children.

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