Ready– steady– cap

09 December 2003
It's finally upon us, a week of flowing dark gowns and jewel-coloured hoods, solemnisations and sprees as students, families and staff celebrate graduation.

This week UCT will award a bumper 3 903 degrees and diplomas, 281 more than were presented last year (2002: 3 622, 2001: 3 409).

The breakdown per faculty is:

  • Commerce: 1 167 (2002: 1 051)
  • Engineering and the Built Environment: 456 (439)
  • Health Sciences: 371 (398)
  • Humanities: 1 269 (1 145)
  • Law: 128 (124)
  • Science: 512 (465)

In addition, 47 PhDs will be awarded this week and 267 master's degrees. The numbers per faculty are:

  • Commerce: two PhDs, 26 master's
  • Engineering and the Built Environment: five PhDs, 68 master's
  • Health Sciences: 14 PhDs, 32 master's
  • Humanities: nine PhDs, 58 master's
  • Law: no PhDs, 42 master's
  • Science: 17 PhDs,41 master's

In addition, UCT will confer honorary doctorates on three venerable candidates: Dr Kathy Jagoe, founder of UCT's Disability Unit; the Honourable Mr Justice Johannes (Hannes) Fagan; and novelist, writer and critic Es'kia Mphahlele.

Fagan will be awarded an honorary LLD for his work as the inspecting judge and head of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons.

In his nomination, Professor Dirk van Zyl Smit from UCT's Law Faculty said that Fagan "has turned the Judicial Inspectorate into an institution that has contributed enormously to improving the difficult lot of prisoners of South Africa".

Furthermore, Van Zyl Smit pointed out that Fagan had successfully appointed a network of Independent Prison Visitors, South Africans from different walks of life who visit every prison in the land and report back to the judge on problems and conditions facing inmates.

Van Zyl Smit said: "Judge Fagan has brought to this office enormous integrity. He is never afraid to speak his mind and personally confront the authorities with hard truths, be they about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in prisons or the intolerable levels of overcrowding."

Fagan was born in Rondebosch in 1927 and graduated from UCT with a BA in 1947 and an LLB in 1949. He obtained a BCL Degree from Oxford University in 1952.

For many years he was a leading judge on the bench of the Cape Provincial Division of the Supreme Court, where he was Deputy Judge President at the time of his retirement.

He has strong family and professional links with UCT and was the chair of the board of the Institute of Criminology for some years.

Fagan has three sons: Johan, a professor at UCT and head of the ear, nose and throat department at Groote Schuur Hospital; Eduard, an advocate at the Cape Bar; and Anton, an associate professor in the Department of Private Law at UCT.

Dr Kathryn Jagoe

In recognition of her contribution to changing attitudes towards disability in South African society in making UCT, other institutions and organisations disability-friendly environments, and in making disability studies part of the mainstream curricula at UCT, Jagoe will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Humanities.

Injured in a diving accident in her teens, Jagoe has overcome the profound physical limitations that her injury imposed to live an extremely full life devoted to scholarship and the service of others.

She graduated from Rhodes University with a BA in fine art in 1978 and a higher diploma in education in 1979. She also completed her Bachelors in Education degree at Rhodes in 1980.

Jagoe began her academic career at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1981, where she was appointed as a visiting associate in the Department of Social Anthropology. In 1984 she was appointed as a visiting associate in the social aspects of disablement, and to an honorary lectureship in the School of Social Work. She was also the co-ordinator of the Disabled Students' Programme and a part-time counsellor to disabled students.

In 1988 Jagoe was appointed head of the Disability Unit at UCT, a post she held until her early retirement in 1997. While at UCT she chaired the first AIDS working group and was a Vice-Chancellor's nominee to the sexual harassment panel.

Jagoe has been involved in a wide range of organisations promoting the interests of disabled people. She is a founder member of Disabled Persons South Africa (DPSA) and served on its executive committee. She also served on a number of its specialist sub-committees and as editor of its bulletin.

A major driving force in pushing for the first South African legislation that recognised the needs of people with disabilities, Jagoe continued to play a monitoring role after the legislation was passed in 1981. Working with DPSA she challenged the government on building regulations that did not take into account the needs of the disabled.

In 1991 her alma mater, Rhodes University, awarded Jagoe an honorary doctorate in recognition of her achievements. In addition, she has received numerous awards for her work on disability and changing societal attitudes towards the disabled.

Es'kia Mphahlele

A South African novelist, short-story writer and critic, Mphahlele was born in Pretoria in 1919. A qualified teacher, Mphahlele worked at Orlando High School for seven years, but his opposition to "Bantu education" saw him being dismissed from his teaching job in 1952.

He then joined Drum magazine, where he worked as a political reporter and fiction editor.

Mphahlele gained a master's degree from the University of South Africa in 1956 and the following year began a period of exile after being banned by the government.

He received a PhD from the University of Denver (1968) and left a full professorship at the University of Pennsylvania to return to South Africa in 1977.

In 1978 he became a professor of African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, a post he held until his retirement in 1987.

Mphahlele began his writing career with the collection Man Must Live (1946). His autobiography Down Second Avenue (1959) is an account of his childhood and the years leading up to his exile.

The Wanderers (1968), which earned Mphahlele his doctorate and a nomination for the Nobel Prize for literature, is set in countries modelled on Nigeria and Kenya and deals with the experience of exile. The novel was banned for many years in South Africa.

Other works in Mphahlele's oeuvre include: The Living and Dead (1961), In Corner B (1967), Chirundu (1979), The Unbroken Song (1981), Afrika My Music (1984) and Renewal Time (1988). He also wrote a novella for young readers, Father Come Home (1984).

As campus prepares to take a breather, the Monday Paper staffers move on to other publications and projects - and take a spot of leave. But have no fear, your favourite staff newspaper will hit the presses again in time for the start of the new academic year in February, 2004.

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