Former President, University of the Free State, South Africa
Internationally renowned education academic, Professor Jonathan David Jansen, is one of South Africa’s leading intellectual experts. He has a solid academic grounding, is a captivating speaker, a master story teller and is known for his insightful and forthright comments on education issues… but it is in his more recent leadership roles at Universities that his…
Internationally renowned education academic, Professor Jonathan David Jansen, is one of South Africa’s leading intellectual experts.
He has a solid academic grounding, is a captivating speaker, a master story teller and is known for his insightful and forthright comments on education issues… but it is in his more recent leadership roles at Universities that his true wisdom and leadership colours shine through with compassion, humility and deep understanding.
Much like his counterpart Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Jansen has been flown against conventions and risen above the challenges of being classified as a Coloured under the Apartheid era, and as part of his own growth is helping South Africa rise above the barriers of racism.
But let’s start at the beginning: Jansen was born on 29 September 1956 in the picturesque town of Montagu in the Western Cape between the Robertson wine district and the semi-desert area of the Little Karoo. He grew up here and in a township in the Cape Flats, and his youthful outlook was shaped by upheavals and the loss of family land and property due to forced removals.
Jansen, who attended Sullivan Primary School, then Steenberg High School, describes himself as an average student in the lower grades of high school – more interested in playing soccer, swimming at Muizenberg and cycling around with his mates.
Encouragement from Paul Gallant, Jansen’s high school Latin teacher and middle-distance running coach, changed his life. The high expectations Gallant set for his students made the young teenage Jansen believe he could achieve things despite the tough environment of the Cape Flats – and he has risen to great heights as a result.
Jansen graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of the Western Cape, completed his teaching qualifications through UNISA, and went on to obtain his masters from Cornell University in the US and his doctorate from Stanford University and is internationally regarded as one of the top researchers in the field of education.
A former biology teacher, Jansen served as Dean of Education at the University of Pretoria from 2001 to 2007, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Stanford in 2007 to 2008. He is an Honorary Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand, and has received an honorary Doctor of Education from the University of Edinburgh and the Cleveland State University.
His keen interest in academic education has seen Jansen undertake more than twenty international commissioned research and evaluation projects including curriculum support to the Namibian Government and an assessment of curriculum change in Zimbabwe after independence.
He has also worked as an editor or on the editorial board for numerous journals published locally and internationally and boasts publications on education policy and curriculum change in academic and scientific journals and books, and has presented numerous research papers at local and international conferences.
In 2008 Jansen co-authored a book with Saloshna Vandeyar, called Diversity High: Class, Colour, Character and Culture in a South African High School and in 2009 he published Knowledge in the Blood which is a heartfelt and effective approach to achieving understanding and transformation in a divided society, based on Jansen’s experiences at the University of Pretoria.
The book considers why young Afrikaners, born at the time of Mandela’s release from prison, hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people and fatalistic thoughts about the future. Jansen had planned to convey a story of how white students change under the leadership of a diverse group of senior academics, but Knowledge in the Blood ultimately became an unexpected and moving account of how these students in turn helped changed him – and helped him start to overcome his own racial hurt and fears.
On 1 July 2009 Jansen took up his appointment Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UOFS) at a time when racial tension was at its highest. The campus had been rocked by the infamous Reitz Four video and the students were polarized into clear racial camps. But in a fairly short space of time this remarkable man, armed with the lessons he’s learnt and the courage of his convictions, has been able to encourage students to meet each other half way – to the point that the UOFS, a former bastion of Afrikaner learning, is fast becoming a living model of genuine integration worth replicating across the country.
This gifted orator, facilitator and leader has, through listening and introspection, found the key to real transformation. He’s encouraging his students, and each of us, to step forward and be part of the transformation journey; part of the solution – and he’s leading by example.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
A Conversation With Jonathan David Jansen
How To Lead In a Crisi
Jonathan Jansen: How to lead in a crisis
CPUT Vice-Chancellor's Public Lecture delivered by Prof. Jonathan Jansen
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