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Mystery donor leaves R50 million to University of Stellenbosch

The future looks bright for talented undergraduate and postgraduate students at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Theology and the Department of Music, thanks to a R50 million that was bequeathed to the university in a donor’s last will and testament.

“We always talk about the transformative power of giving and here we have it in action,” says Karen Bruns, Senior Director: Development and Alumni Relations at SU.

“The donor opted to remain anonymous and though we would have loved to publicly name and honour a person with such foresight, we will respect their wishes,” says Bruns.

“We are however incredibly grateful. This wonderful gift of education will undoubtedly leave a legacy.” 

According to Hugo Steyn, Acting Director: Principal Giving at the University of Stellenbosch, the R50 million is specifically earmarked for bursaries allocated to financially disadvantaged undergraduate and postgraduate students within the Faculty of Theology and the Department of Music.

“The funds will be invested and create a sustainable annual income stream, benefitting countless theology and music students for years to come. The first round of funds will be available soon and we should be able to award bursaries from 2025,” explained Steyn.

“Bursary programmes are crucial for providing access to higher education. These programmes bridge the financial gap for talented students, ensuring their potential is not hindered by economic constraints,” he added.

Professor Reggie Nel, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, said: “Religious communities continue to play a decisive role on our continent and specifically to pursue the calls for justice, peace and healing. At times it failed this call by merely serving its own interests. This donation will ensure that the rigorous study of these communities and the formation of its leaders takes place in dialogue with all the various sciences and different worldviews, to serve the common good. The donor is to be commended for leaving this legacy for generations to come. It will leave a footprint in our country and on our continent.”

According to Professor Mario Nell, Chair of SU’s Department of Music, bursaries for study in music are crucial.

“They help to remove financial barriers, promote equal opportunities, and assist in fostering excellence in the musical arts. They can provide support to committed students towards unlocking their full potential, and ultimately enrich the broader community with their talent, contributing to societal cohesion through cultural activity – a vision which we hold as essential at the SU Music Department.”

Professor Wim de Villiers, SU’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, expressed his appreciation for the donor’s generosity. “This gift to our institution will allow talented students to pursue their theological and musical goals free from financial worries. This donor’s vision and unwavering commitment to higher education in South Africa is an inspiration.”

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