Centenary News

Commemorating a Century

29 November 2017

Stellenbosch University will commemorate its centenary in 2018. DR BARBARA POOL, who manages the centenary project, writes about the spirit and a few of the highlights of these commemorations.

Next year, we will commemorate 100 years since Stellenbosch University formally came into being from Victoria Kollege in accordance with a parliamentary act. In addition to this, four of our faculties – Sciences, Education, Arts and Social Sciences, and AgriSciences – also turn 100 years old next year, although we will be commemorating the University’s centenary as an institution in its entirety.

The centenary theme – “100 years of learning, growing and moving forward together” – is summarised in the expression “Forward together”, which will also be used in three official languages: saam vorentoe • forward together • masiye phambili.

Visually, the theme links up with one of the traditional symbols of both the University and Stellenbosch, namely the oak tree. The oak leaf is one of the elements of the SU shield and of the SU logo taken into use in 2000. The acorn that was planted in 1918 has since grown into a strong oak tree and has undergone considerable change over the years – like a tree that develops new shoots in spring and boasts a deep leaf canopy in summer, which then changes colour in autumn and falls again in winter, just for the cycle to start afresh.

The centenary theme was introduced to the campus community in August this year. Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said that the University was established in a specific context in a specific time and that it has come a long way since 1918. Just like that of any big public institution in any place in the world, this journey has been anything but staid. There have been twists and turns in the road and SU has had to overcome potholes, dead ends and other challenges, but it has also made world-class discoveries.

“There have been outstanding achievements – which we will undoubtedly celebrate. And then there have been mistakes – which we have acknowledged and from which we have learned and which we will continue to do on the road forward. We are grateful for so many people’s hard work and sacrifices over the decades that have brought us to this point, where SU is a leading higher-education institution known for its academic excellence, for its determination in its pursuit of being of service to the whole of society,” De Villiers said.

Prof Hester Klopper, Vice-Rector: Strategic Initiatives and Internationalisation, indicated on the same occasion how SU is approaching its centenary. “We have such a full and rich year programme at our institution that existing events will be used to commemorate our centenary. Although there will be a few additional, freestanding events – as part of liaison with our stakeholders – much of what we do in any case will simply be given a centenary flavour,” she said.

One of the special events planned is a centenary music festival on Friday, 2 March 2018 at Coetzenburg in collaboration with the SU Woordfees. This holds the promise of being a gloriously festive occasion. The SU Jazz Band, under the baton of Felicia Lesch, will accompany Gloria Bosman and Tim Moloi with big band hits, from “Mack the Knife” to “Meadowlands”.

The Soetstemme of Solms-Delta will entertain the audience with their infectious energy, the proudly Stellenbosch vocal duo TWEE will sing their hits and the Dennegeur Marimba Orchestra will keep the spirit of the festival high. The Centenary Orchestra, with alumni of SU, will play the music of Leonard Bernstein and Dimitri Shostakovich under the direction of conductors Graham Scott and Marvin Kernelle and will accompany legends such as Laurika Rauch, Coenie de Villiers and Valiant Swart.

Multi-award-winning Minette du Toit-Pearce, lecturer in singing at the SU Conservatorium, will sing together with some of her students; the award-winning University Choir will perform with alumnus Arno Carstens, with many musical highlights also performed by Heavenly Quartez, Brandon October and 30 young violinists from the Ronnie Samaai Music Education Project. J’Something and MiCasa will round off the evening.

Some of the other special centenary projects will include centenary publications, lectures, conferences, exhibitions and projects to heighten the visibility of the SU brand. The last-mentioned will include special labels for SU wines, Maties Melk and SU vehicles.

- By Dr Barbara Pool -