The University of Free State (UFS) has appointed professor Paul Oberholster as the new dean for the faculty of natural science and agricultural sciences effective on January 1.
Oberholster will succeed the current dean, professor Danie Vermeulen, who is preparing to retire at the end of 2023.
Oberholster serves as the UFS centre for environmental management director, a position he has been holding since 2019.
He obtained his degrees from the university before obtaining a water resource management PhD at the University of Pretoria.
During his reign as director of environmental management at the institution, he obtained the National Science and Technology Foundation (NSTF) award in the water research commission category.
He was also elected as the Academy of Science of South Africa member. This year, he was appointed the managing director of the Ecological Engineering Institute of Africa.
“It is a privilege to be part of the leadership team in the faculty of natural and agricultural sciences – we will ensure that the faculty is known nationally and internationally as an excellent faculty serving our community,” said Oberholster.
“We aim to consolidate and build on the strengths of the university in order to extend its excellence in research and teaching and learning, which is embedded in the UFS Vision 130.”
Oberholster has previously worked as a senior scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
He then upgraded to being the chief scientist at CSIR, obtaining the highest position in the organisation in 2017, 10 years after he was initially employed at the organisation.
He was responsible for integrated water resource management and natural-based treatment solution projects on the continent.
Oberholster ventured into university lecturing part-time in various universities including the University of Pretoria, University of Western Cape, and Stellenbosch University.
The UFS said he was rated among the 2% in the world in the scientific category of engineering and technology, ecological engineering and environmental engineering.