Lecturer powers on as lights go out

06 March 2006

Dr Bette Davidowitz was not going to let Eskom's crumbling infrastructure keep her down. As the lights went out around campus and frazzled administrators fretted over where in a packed and delicately balanced calendar to squash in make-up classes, Davidowitz, based with both the Department of Chemistry and the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), kept her wits and students about her. The danger, Davidowitz knew, was that her synchronised CEM1009H tutorial-and-lecture setup would fall out of step. The tutorials were going ahead fine in the sun-lit Snape Building labs, but not so the lectures, scheduled for one of the windowless lecture theatres in PD Hahn Building. Spotting an open quad in PD Hahn, the holder of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award and the Chemical Education Medal from the South African Chemical Institute led her willing class outside, plonked them down on black bags and carpets, and held court (right). "What drove me was my frustration about not knowing what was going to happen," she says. Davidowitz is still one lecture behind, but her quick thinking has saved herself a few headaches later down the line. "Innovative, original and charming," observed Prof Allen Rodgers, head of chemistry. [Davidowitz wasn't the only one keeping a cool head during the UCT blackouts. All over campus, Monday Paper has heard, lecturers soldiered on where circumstances allowed, running classes on steps and lawns, or even by candlelight.]

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