Plan to bring in senior scholars to UCT

30 October 2006

The Mellon Foundation is underwriting a plan to bring top local and foreign senior researchers to UCT to lend their expertise to high-level research projects and to mentor young academics in the early stages of their careers.

The project, under the leadership of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey's Research and Innovation Department, will support the university's goal to be a research-led institution.

A sum of $500 000 has been allocated over three years - 2007 to 2009 - to establish the Visiting Scholars Project. Faculties have been invited to nominate candidates they feel will help achieve high-level research goals that are in line with their faculty-specific strategies.

The visiting scholars - ideally 12 local and 12 from abroad - will be linked to specific projects, and will work with targeted beneficiaries. UCT has a similar initiative in the Emerging Researcher Programme, where three retired senior research scholars have been appointed by Senate to mentor young academics on generic research skills. The Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment also runs a project that draws on black visiting scholars to contribute to scholarly activity in relevant fields.

The Visiting Scholars Project will be co-ordinated by the Research Office. In September each year, the faculty deans, through their Faculty Research Committees, will be invited to identify their mentoring objectives and to nominate suitable visiting scholars to help them achieve their goals.

"These scholars can come from anywhere in the world; they may be retired, on leave or on sabbatical," said Dr Marilet Sienaert, director of the Research Office. "They should have an impressive track record and should ideally provide expertise in areas of need, whether it is to grow a corps of top-rated researchers and successful students in a particular field or to optimise performance in existing areas of internationally recognised strength."

The project will cover airfare, set up accommodation at All Africa House and provide a small stipend for three international scholars in 2007, four in 2008 and five in 2009. Small stipends will also be available for three local (Cape-Town-based) retired scholars in 2007, four in 2008 and five in 2009.

Visiting scholars may stay from six weeks to six months or their stay can be spread over several visits.

Expressions of interest should be completed, endorsed by the faculty dean and sent to Sienaert by November 15. These will be screened by the University Research Committee. The full plan outlining the visiting scholar's mentoring activities needs to be signed off by February 15, 2007.

"The URC may needs to manage the allocation between international, African diaspora, African and South African candidates and preference may be given to African visiting scholars," Sienaert added.

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