Prof Marius Stander says he would use the word ‘love’ to describe his connection with the university.


Marius Stander:

the NWU is part of my DNA

The year was 1983 and you could buy a Wimpy mixed grill for R3.50, watch the West Indies XI touring South Africa, see Leanne Hosking being crowned Miss South Africa and groove to the beat of Joan Armatrading’s “Drop the pilot”.

That was the year Marius Stander joined the then Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (PU for CHE), embarking on an impressive career journey spanning more than three decades.


Today, after 36 years, Marius is considered a leading authority in the field of industrial psychology and talent management. He has transferred this expertise to his students and ploughed back into the university, especially the campus in Vanderbijlpark, helping to create a place of quality and impact for generations to come.


Living a life of firsts


Firsts change the course of our lives, and nowhere is this universal truth more applicable than to Marius.


As a student at the PU for CHE campus in Vanderbijlpark in the late 1970s, he was one of the first-ever chairpersons of the Campus Student Council.


Next, Marius became the first representative from that campus to serve on the Afrikaanse Studentebond and the first full-time industrial psychology student to undertake his postgraduate studies at the campus in Potchefstroom.


After graduating, he was the first alumni representative of the campus to serve on the university’s Convocation.


Passion for people comes from rugby field


As a founding member of the WATUNI Rugby Club in Vanderbijlpark, Marius ascribes his passion for group dynamics and development to the game of rugby.


“All sports have lessons that can be taken from the field and applied to real life, but rugby has lessons that can’t be found in any other game – and I am not talking about the standard generics of teamwork and playing hard,” explains Marius.


Some of these lessons are: success comes from playing with passion, satisfaction comes from taking and making big hits, the real world doesn’t include padding, it is not enough to simply reach your goal – you have to surpass it, and success is often determined by your last second decisions.


Career highlights


Marius started his academic career as a junior lecturer in industrial psychology at the campus in Potchefstroom and in 1985 relocated to the campus in Vanderbijlpark. He and a long-time colleague, mentor and friend, Prof Joppie van Graan, established the campus’ Industrial Psychology Department and the rest, as they say, is history.


“I am very thankful for all the opportunities I have been afforded, and I feel blessed to say that I have represented my field of interest on six continents.”


Marius is a National Research Foundation-rated researcher, a master human resources practitioner, an executive coach, mentor with the South African Board for People Practices, and an honorary fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organisational Psychologists of South Africa. And, of course, he is a full professor of industrial psychology.


To date, Marius has delivered academic papers at international conferences in 18 countries, acted as supervising psychologist for more than 60 interns, and served as a study leader for more than 50 master’s and PhD students.


NWU imprinted in his DNA


When asked about the NWU, Marius says he suspects the university is part of his genetic make-up.


“My entire life story is connected to the NWU, its people and the opportunities afforded to me, be it as a student, a staff member, an academic or as a proud alumnus,” he says.


He met his wife, Annatjie, at the campus in Vanderbijlpark. The couple has been blessed with two children, Ederick and Elizma and a daughter-in-law, Tasmin. Between the five of them they have obtained no fewer than 19 degrees at the NWU!


And his wish for the NWU of the future? “I hope with all of my heart that the NWU remains an institution of accomplishment and above all, impact.”


The Stander family are from left Marius, Annatjie, Ederick, Tasmin and Elizma.