Francis Petersen is the Rector & Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State in South Africa. He has formerly been Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Dean: Engineering & the Built Environment at the University of Cape Town, the Executive Head: Strategy at Anglo American Platinum, Executive Vice-President: Research and Development at Mintek, and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Cape Technikon (now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology). He graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with the B. Ing (Chem), M. Ing (Metal) and Ph.D (Ing) degrees, and completed a short course on Financial Skills for Executive Management with IIR Training. He is a recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award for research excellence, and the Cape Technikon (now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology) Researcher of the Year Award, and is a regular reviewer, and member of a range of editorial boards for international journals.
He is a non-executive director on the Boards of Bigen Africa and Stone Three Digital. He, was amongst others, chairman of the Board of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a non-executive director on the Board of the Royal Bafokeng Platinum, a member of the South African Minister of Science & Technology’s National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), deputy-chairman of Mintek and a member of the Board of the South African Precious Metal and Diamond Regulator. He is a former member of the Council of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and the Board of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Francis is a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa. He was a member of an International Panel on Sustainability for Anglogold Ashanti, a former advisor to the Anglo American Platinum Beneficiation Fund, and is a Fellow of both the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the South African Academy of Engineers. He is past chairman of the Board of the World Design Capital 2014, and served as Chair of a Special Executive Task Team at the University of Cape Town dealing with key risks and challenges facing the university, which include student protest (#RhodesMustFall & #FeesMustFall), transformation, in-sourcing of staff and the impact of austerity measures on the university. He is currently the Deputy-Chair of a Ministerial Task Team to develop a comprehensive universal student funding model for the South African post school system.
Francis has extensive experience of management at various levels within the University and industry sectors. He believes in teamwork, and has played a key role in various initiatives within higher education, industry and science councils. He is the founder of the first cohort of industry research organisations in the minerals and energy sectors (M & E G9) in South Africa, and has been actively involved in strategic planning, systems thinking and scenario planning. Francis is serving on various national and international technical, editorial and advisory committees, is actively involved and has consulted widely to the South African engineering & the built environment industries. He has published over 170 international journal papers & conference proceedings.