François Stephanus Malan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law by the University of the Cape of Good Hope (UCGH) in 1917. He served on Unisa’s Council in 1932, and again from 1936 to 1940, and became Vice-Chancellor in 1938.
The son of a Cape farmer, Malan graduated with a BA (cum laude) from Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and later with an LLB from Cambridge. He came into the public eye during the South African (or Anglo–Boer) War of 1899–1902 as editor of Ons Land (“Our Land”). This newspaper, though based in the British-controlled Cape Colony, vigorously opposed Britain’s pursuit of the war. Malan championed peace and later, as a politician, supported the 1910 unification of South Africa’s four colonies of the Orange Free State, Transvaal, Natal and the Cape. As the Union of South Africa’s Minister of Education, he transformed UCGH into the University of South Africa. From 1918, Unisa became the degree-issuing university for six constituent ‘university colleges’ (Rhodes, and the universities of the Witwatersrand, Pretoria, Natal, the Orange Free State, and Potchefstroom).