This year, UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) is celebrating its centenary. The office of the Dean and the EMS Faculty House, Commercii, is set to commemorate the last 100 years, and look towards the faculty’s future.
The faculty of EMS began with only 32 students and four professors making up the permanent staff in 1920. Today, the number of students has grown to 7 800, 194 permanent academic staff, and around 60 professional staff. “While the numbers are impressive, our growth has not only been in quantity but also in the quality of our degrees,” said the Dean, Professor Elsabé Loots. The faculty offers a variety of both nationally and internationally accredited programs, ranging from “management sciences, economics, financial sciences and public administration,” explained Prof Loots. All of the faculty’s broad subject groups can be found on leading international ranking lists.The faculty also boasts about their accomplished and “sought-after” alumni, according to Prof Loots, who “are really making a mark across the globe in their respective industries”.
The commemoration of the faculty’s accomplishments began during Orientation Week, where the 2020 first year EMS students were welcomed with commemorative centenary branded caps to mark “this special year and the fact that they were part of such a special first-year cohort,” said Prof Loots.
The faculty’s 100th celebration was on 14 February, where staff, lecturers, the Deans of the faculty and the Commercii executive committee celebrated over cake and champagne, with speeches on the faculty’s milestones over the last century. “I think it was so fitting for our celebration to be on [Valentine’s Day] … it was a spirit of love,” said Commercii’s chairperson, Amelia Veldschoen. “It’s really nice to have our deanery on board and [we are] super excited to see what we have in store for our students,” she added.
“The faculty also boasts about their accomplished and “sought-after” alumni…“
One of the first of these plans is the centenary merchandise that Commercii will be selling. Ranging from hoodies, sweaters, shirts, and bandanas. The merchandise will also be up for grabs in competitions that will be announced on Commercii’s social media platforms and at activations.
The faculty house’s main event for the year will be the faculty festival, 2moroLand, which was launched in 2019 “with the vision of creating future leaders today for a better tomorrow” said Veldschoen. This vision applied to all of Commercii’s events, with this year’s 2moroLand focusing on the faculty’s centenary. The festival will take place on 6 and 7 April, with the first day of events comprising of a quiz night involving staff, lecturers and students. “We want to bridge the gap between staff and students, and what better way to have them participate in a competition, something fun, something interactive,” explained Veldschoen. The following day will see the EMS showcase, which aims to introduce the university’s entrepreneurs.
Open to entrepreneurs from all faculties, the event will allow students to promote their businesses, and even sell “products”. “It would be great to have […] students come on board and share their businesses, and show other students […] that it is possible to do something outside your studies and promote entrepreneurship” said Veldschoen.
Following the showcase, Commercii is planning “EMS Got Talent”. “We want to […] call out our artists, our talented Got Talent”. “We want to […] call out our artists, our talented students that can sing, that can dance, that paint […] and show […] that there is another side to EMS students” Veldschoen said. Open to students from all faculties, competitions, prizes, face painting, and free merchandise will also be available at the event. students that can sing, that can dance, that paint […] and show […] that there is another side to EMS students” Veldschoen said. To close, Commercii has organised a networking session similar to speed-dating. “You’re actually speed-networking with your future boss,” explained Veldschoen. “We get representatives from companies to actually speak to the students that are interested,” she said, who then go on a date-like networking session at the event.
“ Commercii has organised a networking session similar to speed-dating.“
Later in the semester, the Faculty’s Gala Dinner will take place with the theme of the centenary, as well as a sports day around the period of the dinner. Throughout the year, a series of expert lectures will take place from high-level speakers, according to Prof Loots.
Prof Loots said that the “product” the faculty is proudest of, is its alumni. “Some are captains of industry, while others are still in the early stages of their careers and we are honoured to showcase their inspirational stories through a series of weeklyfound on the EMS faculty’s website, some of which have profiled esteemed alumni like Henk Deist, the CEO of Atterbury Europe (a European real estate fund), Noelani King Conradie, the founder of NKC Independent Economists (an independent and trusted economic service in Cape Town), and Phumzile Langeni, the co-founder and Chairperson of an investment and advisory business, the Afropulse Group.
As for the faculty house’s achievements, Commercii’s many awards speak to the hard work of the committee, with last year’s team winning multiple awards from the Department of Student Affairs. These include the Faculty House Treasurer Award, the Faculty House Personal & Professional Development Award, the Faculty House RAG Award, and the Faculty House Faculty Involvement Award shared with House Humanities. From UP’s RAG Awards, Commercii won the best long term project of the year in 2019.
“… the “product” the faculty is proudest of, is its alumni. “Some are captains of industry…“
Veldschoen expressed that the future of Commercii will see a committee which takes “excellence to another level and [advances] not only in their leadership, but in academic and social spheres as well.” Her term as chairperson allowed her to focus on encouraging other student leaders to focus on serving students, giving back, and acting as responsible citizens, and hopes that this will allow her successors to “continue that legacy” moving into the next part of the faculty’s history.
Looking to the future, Prof Loots said that the centenary is “also an exciting period as we collectively envision how the Faculty will continue to advance over the next 100 years.” One area of ongoing progress is the faculty’s move towards obtaining international accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which covers all in the faculty. “Measures like this are part of the continuous process of re-positioning our programmes for the future world of work,” explained Prof Loots. The faculty’s research is also geared towards having societal impact and widening the faculty’s “international footprint,” said Loots.
Photo: Cassandra Eardley