Professor Pamela Jane "PJ" Schwikkard has made history at UCT by becoming the first woman to be appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law.
Five of UCT's seven deans are women.
An accomplished and widely published scholar, Schwikkard has substantial experience in both academia and the legal profession. She completed her BA degree at Wits University before embarking on an LLB, graduating summa cum laude.
She was admitted as an Attorney of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1990. Schwikkard went on to complete her LLM (cum laude) at the University of Natal. In 1999 she completed her LLD at the University of Stellenbosch.
Over the past 20 years Schwikkard has taught courses in gender and the law, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, youth justice, conflict resolution, civil procedure, legal interpretation, legal skills and special contracts.
The new dean began teaching in 1987 as a contract lecturer at the University of Natal's School of Law, later rising to senior lecturer. When she left this university in 1998 it was to take up a professorship at Rhodes University's Faculty of Law.
In 2001 she joined UCT's Faculty of Law in the Department of Criminal Justice and was appointed head of department in 2006. Last year she took on the the dual role of deputy dean.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said her appointment marked a historic moment.
"It is the first time that a woman has led the Faculty of Law at UCT."
He added that apart from the importance of her appointment in transformation terms, her capabilities would contribute significantly to the university's vision of being a research-led institution, as good as any in the world.
Asked about priorities for the faculty, Schwikkard said transformation topped the list.
"We need to transform our student and staff bodies. There have been quite a few initiatives on this front over the past years. It's not a new priority for the law faculty. However, transformation is a difficult task. There is no magic wand. We need to keep trying new strategies and reviewing the success of those," she stated.
Schwikkard will succeed Professor Hugh Corder as dean on 1 January 2009.
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