Brenda Klingenberg: 1952–2018

12 September 2018
Brenda Klingenberg, recently retired as manager of the Faculty of Health Sciences, died suddenly on 12 September 2018.
Brenda Klingenberg, recently retired as manager of the Faculty of Health Sciences, died suddenly on 12 September 2018.

6 December 1952 – 12 September 2018

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of colleague Brenda Klingenberg on 12 September 2018. Brenda recently retired as manager of the Faculty of Health Sciences, where she headed student academic administration.

Brenda was dedicated, highly respected and well-loved. A familiar figure in the passages of Werner and Beit, where her office was located, she was a long-established member of our University of Cape Town (UCT) community. Her death comes as a great shock to us all.

Brenda began her career as a high school teacher of English in 1976, having obtained a bachelor of arts degree and a postgraduate diploma in higher education. After some years of teaching she worked at the United Nations in New York in a reporting position, and thereafter as a senior administrator at the South African Consulate General.

On returning to South Africa in the mid-1980s, she again took up a teaching position, followed by a stint at Parliament as a senior committee officer. She joined UCT as senate officer in 1988. In this position, she gained invaluable insight into and experience of the university’s administrative and governance system. This was to serve her well following her appointment as faculty manager of Health Sciences towards the end of 1992.

Brenda knew the policies and guidelines of UCT in exceptional detail and was famous for insisting that correct processes be followed. When decisions were contested, she was able to explain in great detail how they were reached, citing the correct policies and procedures.

She was an invaluable member of the faculty executive for many years, administering the faculty board and student academic administration with exceptional efficiency and dedication. Working closely with the faculty’s senior leadership group, she was able to call on her rich institutional knowledge of UCT in advising and providing input on student academic matters. She held the respect of the university’s vice-chancellors and faculty deans alike.

She is spoken of with great admiration by colleagues who worked closely with her in the faculty. She would defend both students and staff when they needed institutional support on any issue.

Brenda was highly passionate about her work, and “her” students. She fiercely defended their rights and insisted that we treat all students in the same way. She often dealt first-hand with the difficulties students faced. She took to heart the anguish of many a disappointed and struggling student, especially during the admissions and examinations process. She spent hours advising and counselling students on alternative options and sources of funding for studying at UCT, or following their dreams.

Her staff remember her as someone who never hesitated to work overtime, or to devote whole weekends to ensuring that deadlines were met. Although she was very strict about these, Brenda would always have a “plan B” when necessary.

However, Brenda was not all about work. She could be quite mischievous and had a very infectious sense of humour. A staff member warmly recalls that when Brenda shared funny anecdotes, she would laugh with her whole body.

She lived a full life. Brenda was passionate about the environment, about people with disabilities, the poor and her beloved cats. She made a point of staying healthy through yoga. She read widely and immersed herself in the arts – music, theatre and film. She made no secret of her love of jazz, playing the piano and attending concerts regularly. Shakespeare at Maynardville was an annual pilgrimage involving plenty of food and wine, a colleague and friend remembers fondly.

After Brenda retired, she started taking art classes, which she loved, and for which she clearly had a notable talent. For many years, she had continued to teach English part-time, on a voluntary basis, at the St Francis Adult Education Centre in Langa, until the centre closed due to a lack of funding. It was her intention to resume her voluntary work in adult education during her retirement.

Brenda was thoroughly enjoying this new journey in her life. Her death was sudden, unexpected, and much too soon. She will be sorely missed.

We send our deepest sympathies to her family, friends and colleagues, and in particular the Student Academic Administration office. We hold them in our thoughts, prayers and meditations.

  • Please join us in celebrating Brenda’s life at a memorial service on Friday, 21 September from 12:00 to 13:00, in Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Health Sciences campus.

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