"UCT's main asset is its community..." Interview with new DVC

11 July 2002
DISCOVERING what the UCT community thinks are our strengths and weaknesses will be one of Professor Martin Hall's starting points as the University's newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Hall is UCT's second new DVC (Associate Professor Cheryl de la Rey was appointed in May), his appointment having been announced following the Council meeting on June 5 (the last meeting of the "old" Council before a new chair and new constituents are elected. More on this in a forthcoming edition.).

Interviewed soon after he was short-listed for the position of DVC, Hall, then Dean of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), highlighted the need for a DVC to be a "step ahead, anticipating problems before they become crises". Monday Paper spoke to him on the evening of his appointment.

MP: It has been a lengthy procedure. Are you relieved it is all over?

MH: Yes, although it is important that all sectors of the university are consulted in making appointments such as these. I come into the job knowing that I have strong support from the different sectors, and from Senate. That's worth the wait.

MP: Your family is probably also glad the process is over.

MH: Yes. They certainly shared the tension! They were glad to hear the news. My daughter is in the States, my stepson is somewhere in South America and my stepdaughter is in first year doing the new MBChB course at UCT.

MP What is your new portfolio and what does this involve?

MH: The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, hasn't allocated specific portfolios yet. This job is all about teamwork, so there'll need to be a lot of discussion before specific responsibilities are clear. But my broad area will be planning and budgeting, and academic affairs; teaching and learning, the curriculum, and quality assurance.

MP: Have you any plans yet with regard to your portfolio? Are there anycritical areas needing urgent attention?

MH: I want do a lot of listening, to hear the views of students, support staff and academic staff. UCT's main asset is its community, and I want to know what people think are our strengths and weaknesses, where we should be going as a university.

At the same time, though, there are external requirements pressing down on us that we have to take seriously. The Higher Education Quality Committee is starting to administer statutory quality assurance, and we need to implement Senate policy at UCT as soon as we can. And Cabinet's acceptance of the recommendations of the National Working Group's recommendations for Higher Education means that we have to work hard in building stronger networks of regional collaboration.

MP: How does the news affect your sabbatical?

MH: My sabbatical leave is scheduled to finish at the end of June anyway. I've accomplished most of the things I set out to do, although there's never enough time for research and writing.

MP: How far is your study of governance at South African universities and technikons for the Minister of Education?

MH: We've completed our report, which has been submitted to the Council on Higher Education. I hope that the report will be released for public discussion later this month.

MP: What will you miss most now you're 'moving up'?

MH: Working on a daily basis with my colleagues in the Centre for Higher Education Development. CHED is one of UCT's great strengths, and it has been a privilege to learn from its staff.

MP: In the last interview we conducted with you it was clear you enjoy music. What was the last CD you bought?

MH: Let me think. It was Mozart's Magic Flute.

MP: We asked this of the first new DVC announced last month, Associate Professor Cheryl de la Rey: have you seen Spiderman?

MH: I'm not going to answer that! Actually the last film I saw was Iris. I enjoyed it very much.

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