Outgoing Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price was given a warm send-off by hundreds of UCT alumni, staff and donors at the Baxter Theatre on 13 June.
With his term of office ending on 30 June, Price preceded a marathon selfie-session with students and alumni by reflecting on his 10 years at the helm of Africa’s top university, and sharing some memories and highlights with those who attended.
“Ten years ago, we were a university of 24 000. Today we’re a university of 29 000,” said Price. “This has been a period of significant growth, not just in numbers but in infrastructure.”
This growth in the student body extended into growth across the university’s campuses.
Price pointed to new buildings like Masingene on middle campus, which centralised student administration; Obz Square, which provides an extra 880 beds; and classrooms that were equipped with an array of technological aids to improve the teaching and learning experience for both students and teachers.
He also mentioned the programmes that have been designed to help students navigate the challenging higher education terrain, such as the First Year Experience, which aims to equip students with the so-called soft skills that are critical for success at university and beyond.
“Our pass rates have improved over the last decade, and although we still have a differential between the pass rates of disadvantaged students and advantaged students, that differential is converging,” he observed.
Price thanked those who had supported him during his tenure.
“It’s been fantastic support … the emails you’ve sent me individually to say, ‘It must be tough; we’re with you’, or someone comes to you in a shopping mall and says, ‘I’m one of the alumni; I think you’re doing a great job.’ That kind of support, you don’t know how valuable it is to us, and I hope you will continue to offer that sort of support to the new Vice-Chancellor and the new leadership team.”
“That kind of support, you don’t know how valuable it is to us.”
Price reserved a word of welcome for Vice-Chancellor designate Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
“I am so excited and pleased to be handing over to Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng,” he said to loud applause. “It will be a seamless transition. She’ll take over on 1 July, and I have, and the university has, every confidence that it is in fantastically good hands and that it is going to prosper and grow to new heights.”
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