Capacitating the next generation of HoDs through mindful leadership practice

21 August 2023 | Story Kasturi Behari-Leak and Deidre Schippers. Photo Supplied. Read time 5 min.
HoDEP 2023 participants alongside VC interim Emer Prof Daya Reddy; acting COO, Mughtar Parker; and HoDEP convenor, Assoc Prof Kasturi Behari-Leak.
HoDEP 2023 participants alongside VC interim Emer Prof Daya Reddy; acting COO, Mughtar Parker; and HoDEP convenor, Assoc Prof Kasturi Behari-Leak.

The annual Heads of Department/Division Enhancement Programme (HoDEP) took place from 10 to 12 August at the Capital One, 15 on Orange Hotel, and brought together 15 newly appointed heads of department (HoDs), representing the six faculties at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Launched in 2019, the Centre for Higher Education Development’s (CHED) HoDEP which is part of the Academic Staff and Professional Development unit, supports and provides capacity-building opportunities for middle-level leadership and management and offers an opportunity for HoDs to grow within a community of engaged and critical middle-level leadership at the institution. The programme is developed thematically around the topic “Leadership and Management in a 21st-century African Higher Education Context” across a broad range of topics: the social and cultural context of higher education; academic, research, teaching and learning, transformation and decolonisation, and scholarship; and strategic, financial, HR, operations and stakeholder relations.

HoDEP Residential Retreat 2023

Following the success of previous HoDEP residential retreats, this year’s programme drew on a range of presenters from across many constituencies at UCT. Using a range of workshop modalities, such as small-group interaction, reflective practice activities and presenter inputs, HoDEP’s small-cohort model allowed for the development of deep-level, collegial interaction.

On the first day, participants journeyed through the context of higher education leadership with an interactive session by Associate Professor Kasturi Behari-Leak on “Leader-ful Practice”. This was preceded by a presentation by Professor Shose Kessi, the dean of Humanities, on “Leading for inclusivity, change, and transformation in a department”. Next, participants engaged with insightful perspectives from Vice-Chancellor interim Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy on “Why HoDs are so important in the UCT ecosystem”. A panel of current HoDs shared lessons from the field and this was followed by informative and dynamic sessions by the acting chief operating officer, Mughtar Parker; and chief financial officer, Vincent Motholo, based on key drivers in their areas.

On the second day, Dr Naziema Jappie, the director of the Centre for Educational Assessments in CHED, engaged participants in an insightful session on “Collegial Leadership: The Double-Edged Sword”, followed by Quinton Appolis from the Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC), who explored understanding “Intersectionality and Positionality as inclusive practice”.

Sukaina Walji, the director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) in CHED, led a discussion on “Digitally Enabled Education” as did Ujala Satgoor, the executive director of UCT Libraries. As a part of the programme’s focus on building HoD capacity in the community, Richard Perez, the director of the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking Afrika (d-school) in CHED, explored “Leadership as a Community of Practice (CoP) – mapping the networks of support and stakeholders for HoDs”.

The residential retreat concluded with a motivational talk by Mandisa Mbaligontsi, Bertha scholar, certified chief reinvention practitioner and Africa Innovation lead for Global Lab for Innovation and Equality (aGILE) at Oxfam, on the topic: “From where do we lead?”, followed by a roundtable strategy session on the way forward, which was facilitated by Associate Professor Behari-Leak, Dr Jappie and Walji.

Participant Feedback

One participant said, “Very, very helpful! I found the presentations very practical with plenty of tools that one can take away and implement. Thank you!”

Another one added: “All presentations brought a sense of transformation in me as an academic – not only at UCT but as an academic in general.”

A third said: “All sessions were extremely useful, well designed and structured. I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate in it. I also found the informal discussion with current HoDs very useful.”

Presenter Feedback

The presenters also found the retreat enriching. One presenter noted, “I found the HODs to be enthusiastic and keen on taking up the various opportunities. It was a good combination of the professional, academic and personal/affective elements, all of which need attention.”

Another added: “I found it very interesting and informative from various perspectives. There was great enthusiasm from HODs and a positive spirit which made the time together both productive and fun.”

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.

Teaching and Learning


In the news