Crash course in South Africa for US visitors

27 July 2010 | Story by Newsroom

AttendeesMeeting minds: Attending the programme were (from left) Henry Featherstone (UPenn), Stacey Lopez (UPenn), Prof Crain Soudien (UCT), Bonnie Comella (UPenn), Dr Loveness Kaunda (UCT), Louis Mayer (UPenn), and Tammi Jackson (UPenn).

Master's and PhD researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in the US, led by Professor Mary-Beth Gasman, were warmly welcomed by UCT's International Academic Programme Office (IAPO) and the Centre for Higher Education and Development (CHED) at a function on 21 July.

IAPO director Dr Loveness Kaunda welcomed the visitors to the programme, which, over the past five years, has become an (unofficial) annual event.

"This year we are especially blown away by the calibre of this group," said Kaunda. "Our speakers are very excited to be addressing such a high level audience."

Speakers included Dr Jim McNamara, director of the Development and Alumni Department, on UCT's approach to fundraising; Cal Volks, director of HIV/AIDS Coordination at UCT, on the university's response to the pandemic; Varkey George, director of the Students' Health and Wellness Centres Organisation (better known as SHAWCO), on community engagement and student volunteerism; and Professor Ian Scott, director of CHED's academic development programme, on policy and perspectives on higher education in South Africa.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Crain Soudien, kick-started the day with a talk on transformation in higher education, drawing on his experiences in compiling the controversial Soudien Report on discrimination on university campuses country-wide. Still widely debated, the report was commissioned by the South African government following a racist incident at the University of the Free State.

Each topic generated a lot of interest among the visitors, judging by the questions and interaction. Kaunda hoped the event would extend the continued partnerships between UCT and the University of Pennsylvania.

"We wish to remain in contact with each one of you and to put you in touch with your UCT counterparts," Kaunda told the visitors.

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