Honorary doctorates for two

17 June 2009
Richard Dudley Gavin Mooney
The late Richard Dudley. Prof Gavin Mooney.

UCT conferred two honorary doctorates at its mid-year graduation ceremonies. For his contribution to education and democracy, Richard Dudley was awarded a DEd (honoris causa) at his home in April, due to illness. He died on 31 May. Professor Gavin Mooney, a "founding father of health economics", received a DSocSc (honoris causa)

A UCT alumnus, Richard Dudley's 39-year teaching career at Livingstone High in Cape Town is widely recognised as the foundation upon which hundreds of former pupils built success in a wide range of professional and academic fields, here and internationally.

By providing an alternative to the curricula of the Coloured Affairs Department during the apartheid years, and by his involvement with the Teacher's League of South Africa, Dudley galled both the authorities and his immediate supervisors.

It was this philosophy that ensured that Dudley never became principal, even though he was eminently qualified for the job. He was banned in 1961, along with 200 other teachers, but was allowed to continue teaching.

Under his influence, Livingstone High became one of the foremost high schools in the country, and one of the most important feeder schools to UCT.

He taught his pupils to think, and to analyse the world around them critically. Many of his Livingston pupils became academics and reached professorial level, and he was responsible for nurturing and encouraging a significant number of academics and scholars who today serve the University of Cape Town.

At the heart of Dudley's thought and writing lay the clear argument that contemporary sociology and anthropology were promoting incorrect biologised notions of race, and that race as an inherent and naturalised feature of who we are as human beings was a falsehood. This view was developed into a full-blown theory of social change – that of non-racialism.

Dudley held five other qualifications from UCT: a BSc (1943), MSc (1944), BEd (1963), BCom (1964) and a Certificate in Secondary Teaching (1966).

Prof Gavin Mooney is one of the founding fathers of health economics. He has held the position of Professor of Health Economics at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Sydney and, most recently, Curtin University in Perth.

Mooney has made an exceptional contribution to scholarship and the discipline of health economics, both internationally and at the University of Cape Town.

One of his most important contributions has been to open up for debate the value base of the discipline, through challenging the prevailing orthodoxy of prioritising efficiency over equity considerations in health care decision-making. His exploration has culminated in a book to be released by Oxford University Press in 2009, Challenging Health Economics.

Mooney has trained and mentored hundreds of young health economists, many of whom are now leaders in the discipline in their own right. He is regarded as one of the leading health economics educators in the world and has taught on postgraduate programmess in nearly 30 countries.

It is due in no small part to Mooney disseminating his knowledge in accessible forms that the discipline of health economics was able to take root in South Africa.

Mooney's conceptual and methodological contributions have particular relevance to a country such as South Africa. In the context of the income, social and health inequalities existing in South Africa, it is critical that efficiency concerns be balanced with equity concerns. Specific analytic tools developed by Mooney have been adopted by the South African Department of Health in supporting the development of historically under-resourced districts.

Since the mid-1990s he has been a frequent visitor to the UCT Health Education Unit. His support and contribution have enabled this unit to become one of the pre-eminent health economics institutions to be found in low- and middle-income countries.

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