Ernst Marais 1984

Doctor of Education (Honoris Causa)

Ernst Jacobus Marais was born on the 5th of March 1921 at Vredefort, Orange Free State. An eminent scientist and educator, he matriculated from Kroonstad High School and received his BSc (cum laude) from the University of the Orange Free State in 1940. In 1941, he completed his MSc degree (cum laude), at the University of Stellenbosch.

After lecturing Physics at Rhodes University from 1942 to 1943, Marais obtained his DSc on a problem in the field of molecular spectroscopy in 1945, and the following year became one of the first appointees at the newly established Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

He was appointed the Head of Department of Optics and Mass-Spectrometry at the National Physical Research Laboratory and later, in 1962, Vice-President of the CSIR. On the 1st of June 1964, he became the first Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the former University of Port Elizabeth.

In October 1980, Marais was appointed Chairman of the Science Committee of the President’s Council. He was a founder member of the SA Institute of Physics and an elected full member of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. Marais was also one of a small number of South Africans ever elected as a foreign member of the Koninklijke Academie of Belgium.

Ernst Marais was awarded an honorary doctorate from the former University of Port Elizabeth in 1984, in recognition of his outstanding service to education in general and especially in the development of UPE as an educational institution.