Corder's deanship extended

27 February 2006

Professor Hugh Corder reflects on his reappointment for a second term as Dean of Law.

As I look forward to the unanticipated extension of my deanship it is very satisfying to reflect on all that the faculty has achieved in recent years.

Teaching and research are the two obvious yardsticks, and 2005 saw the largest LLB group to graduate since 1994, a group that included five cum laudes and one magna cum laude. at the ceremony with them were two new University Fellows, Professors Tom Bennett and Danie Visser, and the most recent Distinguished Teacher Award recipient from the faculty, Mohamed Paleker.

Impressive as these achievements are, a source of immense pride for me was that the graduating class of 2006 will have pioneered a social responsibility component of their LLB degrees, 60 hours of community service. The biggest project was the Saturday morning tutoring at Sithembele Matiso High, but the Law Clinic also had a record 50 students as part of their team to service refugees and five satellite offices.

The master's and postgraduate diploma students account for about half of the student population, and there is impressive width and depth in the over 40 courses on offer. The faculty has a full complement of doctoral students and 2005 saw the introduction of a support network for this important group.

The lecturers in turn are supported in their research by a well-developed peer review and advice structure.

The faculty is also in fairly good shape transformation-wise; from one woman lecturer in 1986 we now have 23 women and 14 black members among our 49 academic staff. a staff development programme was in place before I became dean in 1999 and recent Carnegie funding ensures that such capacity-building will continue.

Research output is one of the highest per capita in the university and there are 10 NRF-rated researchers on the staff. our academics feature in every sphere of tertiary education.

Practical outcomes are the mark of the several institutes that make up the totality of the faculty, from comparative studies on the labour market in SADC to training magistrates, oversight of police accountability and recommendations on children's rights. The legal profession benefits from a professional education project that over the last six years has grown to a comprehensive programme; this is aside from the more than 3 000 commerce, humanities and engineering students who annually are taught the basics of the law.

Turning to students past, we took the decision to appoint a marketing and development manager in July 2002 and one of the most rewarding aspects of the last three years is to have reconnected with our alumni; 3 500 graduates hear from us regularly and almost every day brings contact from one of them.

Thanks mostly to their generosity we are going to begin to address a key shortfall in our student profile and that is the very small number of black South Africans in the LLB programme.

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