The University of the Free State (UFS) Council has announced Professor Francis Petersen as the new Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the institution.
The council unveiled the new face of the university on Friday during its quarterly Council meeting on the Bloemfontein Campus.
According to the University’s Council chairperson, Judge Ian van der Merwe, Petersen was picked after a truly participatory and transparent selection process.
As gathered, other prominent figures who locked horned with Petersen include for the position: University of Cape Town’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Innovation, Prof Lis Lange and UFS’ Vice-Rector for Academic.
It is understood that the selection was made easier with the help of an international executive search agency specializing in academic appointments.
Professor Francis Petersen is a member of the UCT Council‚ non-executive director on the Board of Pragma Holdings‚ non-executive director on the Board of the Unlimited Group‚ and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Seedcap (Venture Capital) Trust.
He previously served as a member of the Board of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research‚ the National Advisory Council on Innovation‚ and the Council of the Academy of Science of South Africa. The professor was once the executive head of strategy at Anglo American Platinum.
Petersen graduated from Stellenbosch University with a B.Eng (Chem Eng)‚ MEng (Metal Eng)‚ and Ph.D. (Eng) degrees. He has also completed a short course on Financial Skills for Executive Management.
He is a recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award for research excellence‚ and was a visiting professor at the Cape Technikon and extraordinary professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stellenbosch University.
Professor Francis Petersen succeeds Prof Jonathan Jansen who has taken up a Fellowship position at America’s Stanford University after stepping down in August.