New structure will streamline transformation

26 October 2009

UCT is reorganising its transformation facilities to serve students and staff more efficiently and effectively. From the beginning of next year, the new Transformation Services Office will co-ordinate the work of three existing departments: the Discrimination and Harassment Office (DISCHO), led by Francois Botha; HIV/AIDS Co-ordination UCT (HAICU), led by Cal Volks; and the Disability Services Unit, led by Reinette Popplestone.

Each of these offices will continue to operate with their current staff and leadership, but they will be consolidated under the Director of Transformation - a new position that is expected to be filled by the beginning of the next term. The Director of Transformation will report to the deputy vice-chancellor in charge of transformation. Currently Professor Crain Soudien is the acting DVC.

"This new structure is designed to unite the work of these important services, develop synergies in their approaches, and consolidate their positive initiatives," said Soudien. "Through such collaboration we aim to create an institutional climate where everyone at UCT can operate at their highest potential."

He added: "We've given long, careful thought to how transformation policies can be rolled out to greatest effect. And meanwhile, much effort has been made at different levels to speed the pace of transformation. For instance, students are making wonderful progress in peer-to-peer work. The Transformation Services Office will offer an umbrella structure to support these kinds of initiatives, and to serve the broad range of needs and outlooks within UCT."

An Ombud's office is also being created, and will be housed within the Transformation Services Office. Soudien explained that the Ombud will report directly to either the vice-chancellor or the Council. "By definition, the Ombud will operate independently of the university's authority structures," he said. "The scope of the issues he or she addresses will provide additional checks and balances over the structures that manage complaints. It will also provide an independent process for dealing with conflict, complaints and matters that cannot be satisfactorily resolved by existing offices. So it makes sense to have the Ombud work in loose partnership with the Transformation Services Office." He said details of this position are still under discussion.

Invitations to apply for both the Director of Transformation and the Ombud will be advertised soon, and appointments are expected to be made by early next year.

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