Dear colleagues and students,
The Rhodes Must Fall protests, as we know, were about much more than the statue. They reflected deeper underlying frustrations with the pace of transformation. The response of all constituencies within the University of Cape Town – from Council to students, Senate, faculties, professional and support staff, unions, to the Institutional Forum (IF) – has been an overwhelming commitment to take much bolder steps and to focus more energy and resources on the multiple dimensions of transformation that lie ahead.
This needs dedicated attention from my office, and also additional coordination as leadership across the university – the deans, academic heads of department, executive directors, Student Representative Council and IF – all drive new transformation efforts within our respective spheres of governance and influence.
In order to ensure the necessary executive focus on the transformation project over the next 12 months, I am appointing a Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Transformation, who will work in my office, help me keep abreast of all the initiatives and advise me on ways of accelerating the various programmes across the university. This is since I cannot possibly be directly involved in them all while still performing the VC functions that I must inevitably carry out. While in no way being a gatekeeper to my office, she will also be available to meet with any groups and individuals who wish to raise issues related to transformation policy and practice – whether these are concerns or proposals.
I am pleased to announce that Associate Professor Elelwani Ramugondo has accepted my invitation to become my Special Advisor and will take up the position on 18 June 2015 for a 12-month period.
Associate Professor Ramugondo has been at UCT since her student days, having obtained her BSc Occupational Therapy (1992), her MSc and her PhD here. Her career as a faculty member started as a lecturer in a development contract post in 1998, and she has moved up the ranks, having been promoted ad hominem to associate professor in 2010. She served as head of the division of Occupational Therapy from 2010 to 2013. Associate Professor Ramugondo has supervised or is currently supervising seven PhD and 13 Masters students, amongst whom eight are black South Africans.
Since her student days as chairperson of the Postgraduate Students' Association and member of the University Council, Associate Professor Ramugondo has been deeply involved in and committed to making a contribution to UCT affairs and governance beyond the confines of her discipline and academic scholarship. She was warden of the Carinus Residence for four years and has served some 11 years as a co-opted member of Senate and member of the Senate Appointments Committee since 2013. Within the Faculty of Health Sciences, she has been a representative for the Employment Equity Network on Faculty Staff Selection & Appointment Committees since 2004, and has served on several faculty committees as head of a professional programme. She has also led some interesting innovations in curriculum reform within her discipline and profession.
Being a completely new position, the role of the Special Advisor to the VC on Transformation will evolve with experience. Associate Professor Ramugondo will have advisory, not executive functions. Some of the immediate activities will be the task teams being established to review names of buildings and artworks. She will attend faculty assemblies to hear the issues raised. She will be involved in the reviews of the Discrimination and Harassment Office and the Transformation office. The new plans to accelerate employment equity and career development, as well as identifying issues in the institutional climate that need to be addressed, will form part of her portfolio. If time allows, I hope she will also join the expanded curriculum review process. She will be an assessor member of the IF and University Transformation Advisory Committee.
Associate Professor Ramugondo's appointment to this post is also particularly timeous in that the Transformation Services Officer, Ms Glenda Wildschut, has unfortunately been chronically unwell and has now been booked off for extended sick leave. Associate Professor Ramugondo will be able to fill some of the gap that this leaves.
I look forward to Associate Professor Ramugondo joining the executive team and being able to complement our efforts over the next year.
Dr Max Price
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