Good morning. Goeie môre. Molweni kuni nonke, members of the UCT community on the very first day of my taking office.
As it happens, I took over from Dr Max Price yesterday morning, but I did not think that you would want to have your Sunday morning disturbed by my greeting!
I am delighted to address you today for the first time as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
Thank you very much for the confidence you have placed in me. It’s an honour and a privilege to be asked to lead such a world-class institution. I have met and worked with many of you – students and staff – in the last two years, and so I know the hard work and dedication that are hallmarks of this institution. I’m proud to be leading a team of such talented and committed people.
I wish to assure you that I will continue to work very, very hard to advance UCT. I will work tirelessly with colleagues and students all over campus, to ensure that we make progress on critical elements of our vision and our strategic plan so that we can deliver on the goals that we have set for ourselves.
Our vision is to be an inclusive, engaged and research-intensive African university. This is a great vision, and it is my intention to draw on our collective strengths and efforts, to make it a lived reality.
I have stated before that three key cornerstones of my vision are to promote transformation of our institution, to ensure excellence in all we do, and to work tirelessly to guarantee sustainability of our institution for generations to come. I invite you to re-commit to these three pillars.
Despite the many challenges we currently face, I believe that this is a great time to be at UCT. Across South Africa and even the world, the higher education sector is seeking ways to be more inclusive, to fund students so that its opportunities are available to everyone with high academic potential, irrespective of their background. This is a time that brings the prospect of making real change happen, of contributing to solutions that might guide other institutions and organisations across our nation to do the same. UCT’s place in the world is to be at the cutting edge, to forge into the unknown and the unfamiliar. It is our work to open new pathways, to arrive at new understandings.
There is a lot of work to do. I appreciate fully that staff across all faculties, departments and units at UCT play a significant role in making ours the great university that it is. The next five years will demand much from us as colleagues in this partnership that aims to deliver so much. I will rely and depend on you, and I thank you in advance for your dedication and commitment.
We all have something to contribute to UCT’s quality and growth, to the climate on campus and to the support we give our students. I want you to know that your questions, issues and concerns about UCT are important to me. I have come into this office with a particular interest in contributing towards making the institution ever more sustainable, while we seek to transform and make it even more inclusive and improve its excellence in research, teaching and learning, and social responsiveness.
I invite you to partner with me as we tackle the critical challenges that face us and our students, our campus, our city and our society.
For many staff and students the past few years have been more difficult than usual. But I believe that we have to tackle our issues, by all participating, getting involved, working together, bringing our talents forward, so that we can collectively make a difference.
I have set several meetings around campus already in order to meet key constituencies, to share more deeply my vision for the next few years and to open the discussion on the way forward. I look forward to these meetings and will continue to communicate with the UCT community as we go forward.
I thank you again for your confidence in me. I will honour your trust in me by working hard and doing all I can to strengthen excellence at UCT, to tackle our challenges head-on, and to advance the causes we are committed to as a community.
Enkosi. Mooi bly. Thank you again.
I will speak with you soon.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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