Institute will follow Slabbert’s example to design the future
“Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert did not seek to reengineer the past, but to design the future. And – crucially – he brought people together to reach consensus and hammer out the details. This is his legacy that we want to keep alive.” This is how Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) paid homage to its former Chancellor, Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, by establishing an Institute for Student Leadership Development bearing his name.
The Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert (FVZS) Institute for Student Leadership Development wants to keep his legacy as principled and brave leader alive by equipping Maties, students from other tertiary institutions and school learners to deal with current leadership challenges.
The FVZS Institute was launched as part of the HOPE Project, a campus-wide initiative through which Stellenbosch University is using its academic excellence and cutting-edge scientific research to find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing South Africa, the rest of the continent and the world at large.
The launch of the Institute consisted of an afternoon seminar on Pragmatic and Ethical Leadership, followed by a dinner in honour of Dr Slabbert as leader and role model. Family members, friends, university staff and student leaders attended the evening function.
“The youth of today are acutely aware of environmental problems, political and governance issues and the need for strong economic growth and job creation. They want to make a difference. We want to empower them do exactly this,” the new institute’s first head, Dr Leslie van Rooi, says.
It no longer is enough for universities to just provide graduates with an excellent academic qualification. SU wants to develop well-rounded thought leaders who have broadened their horizons; young people who are committed to ploughing what they have learnt back into society.
“Dr Slabbert embodied Stellenbosch University’s endeavour to produce graduates who can play a leadership role in society as responsible and critical citizens. We see all our graduates as agents of change,” Prof Botman added.The FVZS Institute at SU is the first of its kind in higher education in South Africa. It offers programmes to strengthen the leadership skills of its students and develop their well roundedness as graduates.
The objectives of the Institute is to foster ethical leadership and an understanding of students’ role as leaders in an African and global context. It also aims to develop students’ leadership, communication, conceptual and management skills.
On offer are advanced courses in mentoring, exchange programmes aimed at developing the ability to see the world through each other’s eyes, short courses in community engagement, a school leaders symposium, training students as agents for social change, a combined tennis and life skills programme, a course to develop student entrepreneurs and a course for student leaders to develop generic leadership skills through dialogue.
Lloyd Blake, one of the many Maties already benefiting from SU’s focus on leadership development, says he particularly enjoyed recently facilitating a video conference between Stellenbosch student leaders and their counterparts at Samford University in Birmingham, USA.
“The 21st century has opened up endless doorways for individuals to interact at the touch of a button. It was inspiring to watch the conversations between these two groups of students who are worlds apart and yet experience things that are so similar,” he says.
According to Dr Van Rooi the establishment of the FVZS Institute can be seen as the start of a new era at Stellenbosch University. “It allows us to build on the legacy of a truly critical thinker, and it gives students the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of a great South African leader,” he says.
Speakers at the seminar included Prof Botman, Dr Alex Boraine, Co-Founder of Idasa and friend of Dr Slabbert, Dr Betty Siegel, Emeritus-President, Kennesaw State University, USA, Ms Prem Coopoo, Dean of Students, University of the Witwatersrand, Dr Leslie van Rooi, Head of the FVZS Institute for Student Leadership Development, Mr Jan-Jan Joubert, Political Editor, Rapport, Mr Simphiwe Sesanti, Journalism lecturer, SU, Mr Jan Greyling, SRC Chair, Mr Reggie Barry, Wilgenhof Head Student, Mr Wiaan Visser, Student representative on Academic Affairs Council, Ms Nadine Moodie, student monitor, Ms Lovelyn Nwadeyi, student assistant at the FVZS Institute and Ms Crystal McIntosch, Leadership House, one of SU’s “Listen, Live and Learn” student houses.
Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert – an exemplary leader
Born in Pretoria on 2 March 1940, Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert obtained all four of his degrees – a BA, BA Hons (cum laude), MA (cum laude) and PhD – at Stellenbosch University from 1961 to 1967. He became a popular Sociology lecturer at the University, and the first resident head of Majuba men’s residence. He would later also teach at Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand.
He entered politics in 1974 and rose to the position of leader of the opposition Progressive Federal Party, the frontrunner of the Democratic Alliance. In 1986, he left the apartheid parliament on principle and co-founded the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa). A year later, he played a key role in organising talks in Dakar, Senegal, between the then banned African National Congress (ANC) in exile and a group of mainly Afrikaans speaking politicians, academics and business leaders.
Dr Slabbert was installed as SU Chancellor in 2008, but stepped down due to illness a year later. With his passing on 14 May 2010, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor H Russel Botman promised the University would “maintain and expand the legacy of his leadership”.
Speeches, videos and audio files:
- Prof Russel Botman: pdf document and audio file (mp3 file)
- Dr Alex Boraine: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Mr Jan-Jan Joubert: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Mr Simphiwe Sesanti: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Ms Prem Coopoo: audio file (mp3)
- Ms Lovelyn Nwadeyi: pdf document – see “Student panel for audio file
- Prof Magda Fourie: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Dr Leslie van Rooi: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Dr Betty Siegel: audio file (mp3)
- Student panel (mp3 file)
- Prof Russel Botman: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
- Mr Rudolf Gouws: pdf document and audio file (mp3)
Further information on the FVZS Institute:
- Programmes offered by the Institute
- Webpage: www.thehopeproject.co.za/fvzs
- FVZS Institute blog
- Contact details: Tel 021 808 2312, e-pos firstname.lastname@example.org or