A tale of two Karens at UCT

11 May 2002

Dr Karen van Heerden (left) and Karen Wienand are new Faculty Office Managers at the faculties of Humanities and Science respectively.

THE FACULTIES of Humanities and Science have over the last few months – with no signs of collusion – each appointed faculty office managers who carry the appellation of "Karen" – the former Dr Karen van Heerden, the latter Karen Wienand.

Karen van Heerden started at UCT at the beginning of January after a 13 to 14-year stint at Port Elizabeth Technikon. Here she of late served as Head of the Department of Languages and as Acting Dean.

Keen to come to Cape Town to join her husband – Dr Derick van Heerden, who happens to study at UCT on a part-time basis – she decided that the time had come for a move after completing her PhD in education at Rhodes University in April last year. She had all but unpacked her belongings at the University of the Western Cape when the UCT post was offered to her.

According to Van Heerden, her massive administrative load at the PE Technikon – especially over the last year – had prepared her well for her current post at UCT. "There's not the same support and infrastructure such as here at UCT, and a lot of what I'm doing now is what I did there."

Her academic background has also given her an insight into the balance required between the various role players at a tertiary institution, she says.

"You have to understand the interface between the academic and administrative functions." For now, she's just trying to cope with the weather and the impenetrable Cape Town traffic.

"Home grown" Karen Wienand is a more recent appointment, joining the Faculty of Science as Faculty Officer Manager: Academic Administration at the beginning of April. Wienand has been at UCT since 1985, when she registered as a first-year science student.

Since then, she has also completed her Honours and Masters degrees in botany. Wienand stayed with the Department of Botany, serving as lab assistant, technical officer and – until her move – as senior technical officer.

Last year, she was chosen as one of 20 staff members for UCT's pilot Advanced Certificate in University Management programme offered at the Graduate School of Business.

Involved in just about everything from student queries to Faculty strategic planning, Wienand was still toting boxes from the Department of Botany to her new environs – and attending farewell teas with her former colleagues – when Monday Paper caught up with her.

Her big aspiration at the time, she said, was to "cope with all of this", pointing at the loads of paper making its way to her new desk.

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