Final Council report marks end of four-year term

23 June 2008

Members of the Council, photographed at the Council dinner in the Smuts Hall on 12 June, include (seated, from left) Geoff Budlender and Vice-Chancellor Professor Njabulo S Ndebele. (Standing, from left) Edwina Goliath, Richard Rosenthal, Professor Ralph Kirsch and Mr Justice C T Howie.

The university Council's last meeting (in June 2008) before the end of its four-year term of office was appropriately dominated by the presentation of the draft annual report of the Council to the Minister of Education, and the annual financial statements for the year to 31 December, 2008.

These were presented by the Chair of the Audit Committee, Colin McClelland, and were adopted by Council. (These reports will shortly be on the university's website.) The auditors gave an unqualified report and the financial statements reflected a small surplus in Council-controlled funds and a strong balance sheet.

The reports were adopted by Council, which congratulated the Audit Committee and the Finance Department. The Audit Committee's report on internal controls drew attention to the need to strengthen the internal audit function, and risk measures, in particular to the IT environment.

Also before the Council was the University Research Committee and Senate's report on research for 2007. The university produces two annual research reports. The first reflects on the achievements, opportunities, and problems associated with the university's research endeavours and accounts to Council for this area of university work. The second, which was released on 11 June, is the record, department by department, of research activity and publications. Council adopted the report on research.

The Green Campus Policy framework was adopted by Council. It is an important document, with widereaching implications for shifting the campus, and our practices, towards environmental sustainability. Primary responsibility for taking this forward will rest with the executive director of Properties and Services.

The final report on the supaTsela project - a two-year, R80-million project to upgrade the university's IT infrastructure - was adopted by Council. While some parts of the project will continue in the second half of 2008 (mainly telephony and the completion of the extension of the residence network to the remaining un-networked student residences), the report showed project completion within budget.

Matters relating to the Joint Agreement between the university and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape have been important in Council's deliberations for the past three years. The Vice-Chancellor reported on recent meetings with the MEC. Agreement has yet to be reached on key issues, and Council noted that this would be a priority matter for the new Council and the incoming Vice-Chancellor.

Reports on several operational matters were dealt with. Council finalised the selection process for the three vacant posts of Deputy Vice- Chancellor. Council adopted a report setting out the support to be provided to the Chair of Council in future.

Progress in implementing the code of conduct (in relation to the employment of people who work on the campus) to which UCT's service providers must subscribe, was noted. The state of negotiations regarding important property leases was reported. The professional team for the proposed project to upgrade the Centlivres Building was appointed.

The scope of this project has not yet been decided, nor has its place in the priority listing of capital projects, but the Building and Development Committee believed it important to make this appointment to allow planning to proceed. Three new heads of academic departments were approved: Professor Mike Meadows, who will head Environmental and Geographical Science to the end of 2013; Professor David Benatar to head the Department of Philosophy to June, 2013, and Professor David Cooper to head the Department of Sociology to June, 2011.

Council noted that the Ministerial Committee on Transformation, Social Cohesion and Discrimination in public higher education institutions will be visiting UCT on 15 July 2008.

The current national displacedpeople crisis was necessarily and appropriately on the agenda. Council thanked all staff and students who had been involved in the support given to displaced people, and considered how best the university's expertise across many fields could best be used to find solutions to these problems.

Transitional matters and farewells were also dealt with. Exco was given authority to deal with matters requiring Council's attention until the new Council takes office at its first meeting (scheduled for 16 July, 2008).

Chair of Council, Geoff Budlender, retires after four years.

The Vice-Chancellor paid tribute to retiring members, in particular to Geoff Budlender, who has been Chair for the past four years, and Richard Rosenthal, who has been a Council member since 1993.

Hugh Amoore
12 June, 2008

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