Dr Max Price, UCT Vice-Chancellor, recently took over the reins as Chair of the Partnership Board of the World Universities Network (WUN).
At a dinner in the historic Smuts Hall Price thanked outgoing Chair, Dr Indira Samarasekera from the University of Alberta, "for the sterling way in which she steered the ship" and said he was "honoured" by the confidence shown by the board members who elected him.
Representatives from WUN member universities were in Cape Town for the organisation's annual general meeting. Price, who is serving a two-year term, is the first Chair from the Global South. It is also the first time that WUN's annual general meeting was held in Africa and in the Southern Hemisphere. Price remarked that this signalled the organisation's "coming of age".
WUN is a collection of 17 research-led universities committed to building global research communities by supporting collaboration. The Partnership Board is responsible for the network's policy and comprises presidents and vice-chancellors or rectors from member universities.
Outlining the collective vision of the organisation, Price revealed that WUN aims to grow its membership to 25 over the next five years. He pointed out that WUN had no members from South America and membership gaps in - among others - Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe and mainland China.
"By increasing our spread we establish ourselves as a network that tackles world issues," he explained.
He observed that WUN members ensured their students were prepared for an increasingly globalised world by "facilitating student mobility" and by raising large research grants "that can sustain cross-continental, cross-institutional research projects".
Price added that the network played a crucial role in the development of leadership, explaining that institute leaders were able to "draw on the wisdom of (their) peers".
"As we survey what WUN has become, it is clear that the network is unique. Unlike its competitors it is not too large, nor is it focused on just one region. We have something unique and it is something we remain committed to," he concluded.
Story by Abigail Calata. Image by Michael Hammond.
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