Author: Wiida Fourie-Basson

Mikro11-1055

Prof. Hennie Louw at the 50th anniversary of Department of Microbiology

Prof Hennie Louw (85), a former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Stellenbosch University (SU), passed away in his sleep on Tuesday 30 September 2014 in Somerset West. He had recently undergone heart surgery.

Prof Louw has been associated with SU since 1949, when he was the first student to register for the subject Microbiology in the Faculty of Agriculture. In 1958 he obtained a PhD in Microbiology with distinction from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and thereby became the first South African with a doctoral degree in this discipline.

In 1961 Prof Louw was appointed head of the newly-established Department of Microbiology, after a Senate decision to separate the disciplines of plant disease science and microbiology. Under his guidance the Department of Microbiology diversified and included courses in soil microbiology, virology, food microbiology and much later molecular microbiology. In 2012, he attended the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of this department.

During his term as Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture from 1973 until 1990, Prof Louw managed many changes in the faculty and the experimental farms, including securing the future of the Welgevallen experimental farm. Under his leadership a major revision of agricultural research in South Africa took place.

According to his sister-in-law, Dr Cornelia de Kock, former students had a lot of respect for Prof Louw. He established a system whereby lecturers had to act as mentors for students, which significantly improved the pass rate.

“His office door always stood open for highly-ranked academics and the lowliest workers on the farms – he treated each and everybody with the utmost respect. He was a family man who loved people and he was always so modest. After his retirement he insisted on being addressed as ‘Doctor’ instead of ‘Professor’,” she says.

Prof Louw was a good rugby player and later became involved with the management of Maties Rugby. He was also president of the Maties Equestrian Club and continued to ride once a week until the age of 82.

He is survived by his wife, Rolene, and four children – Annari Heunis, Wilhelm Louw, Frede Louw and Roelie Koegelenberg.

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​Prof. Hennie Louw (85), oud-dekaan van die Fakulteit Landbouwetenskappe by die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US), is op Dinsdag 30 September 2014 in Somerset Wes in sy slaap oorlede. Hy het onlangs ‘n hartoperasie ondergaan.

Prof Louw se verbintenis met die US het reeds in 1949 begin toe hy die eerste student was om vir die vak Mikrobiologie in die Fakulteit Landbouwetenskappe in te skryf.  In 1958 verwerf hy ‘n PhD in mikrobiologie met onderskeiding van die Universiteit van Aberdeen in Skotland en word sodoende die eerste Suid-Afrikaner met ‘n doktorsgraad in dié vakgebied.

In 1961 is prof Louw aangestel as departementshoof van die nuutgestigte Departement Mikrobiologie nadat die Senaat besluit het om die vakrigtings Plantsiekteleer en Mikrobiologie van mekaar te skei. Onder sy leiding het die departement gediversifiseer om kursusse in grondmikrobiologie, virologie, voedselmikrobiologie en veel later ook molekulêre mikrobiologie in te sluit. In 2012 het hy die Departement Mikrobiologie se vyftigste bestaansjaarvieringe bygewoon.

Gedurende sy termyn as Dekaan van die Fakulteit Landbouwetenskappe vanaf 1973 tot en met sy aftrede in 1990, het Prof. Louw baie veranderinge in die fakulteit en op die proefplase bestuur, waaronder die behoud van die Welgevallen proefplaas. Onder sy leiding het ‘n grootskaalse herbeplanning van landbounavorsing in Suid-Afrika plaasgevind.

Volgens sy skoonsuster, dr. Cornelia de Kock, het oud-studente die hoogste respek vir hom gehad. Hy het onder andere ‘n stelsel ingevoer waarvolgens dosente as mentors vir studente moes optree. Dit het die slaagsyfer baie verhoog.

“Sy kantoordeur het opgestaan vir hoogleraars en vir die nederigste arbeiders van die proefplaas – elke mens is met respek behandel. Hy was ook ‘n gesinsman, baie lief vir mense en opreg beskeie. Hy het byvoorbeeld daarop aangedring om ná sy aftrede as Doktor, en nie Professor nie, aangespreek te word,” vertel sy.

Prof. Louw was ‘n kranige rugbyspeler en later betrokke by die bestuur van Maties-rugby. Hy was ook president van die Maties Perdryklub en het tot die ouderom van 82 een keer per week perd gery.

Hy word oorleef deur sy vrou, Rolene, en vier kinders – Annari Heunis, Wilhelm Louw, Frede Louw en Roelie Koegelenberg. ​

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