Warm response to Moloi-Motsepe’s election as chancellor

03 September 2019 | Story Helen Swingler. Photo Wikimedia commons. Read time 4 min.
Businesswoman and philanthropist Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, UCT’s next chancellor.
Businesswoman and philanthropist Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, UCT’s next chancellor.

There has been a warm response to the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) election of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe as the university’s sixth chancellor, a position that she will take up from 1 January 2020. She will be the second black woman to hold the position and will take the reins from Graça Machel.

The chancellor is the titular head of the university and presides at graduation ceremonies, confers degrees, and awards diplomas and certificates in the name of the university. The role of chancellor requires an individual of stature with exceptional personal qualities and integrity.

Machel finishes her second term as chancellor at the end of 2019. Unusually, she served two terms, her first beginning in 1999. The chancellor is usually elected for a 10-year term.

Moloi-Motsepe was elected by an electoral college consisting of holders of UCT qualifications, academic and PASS (professional, administrative support and service) staff, and students on Friday, 30 August.

UCT’s chair of council Sipho Pityana welcomed the news.

“The university is privileged to have Dr Moloi-Motsepe serve as the chancellor of one of the leading institutions in the country and on the African continent. On behalf of UCT, I would like to thank the outgoing chancellor, Mrs Graça Machel for serving the university with remarkable distinction and great commitment for two 10-year terms, which spanned complex moments and incredible milestones.”

Moloi-Motsepe is a businesswoman and philanthropist who started her career in medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She worked in various public hospitals in South Africa as well as at the Medical College of Virginia in the US. Together with her husband, Dr Patrice Motsepe, she founded the Motsepe Foundation in 1999, and in 2013 they became the first couple from Africa to join The Giving Pledge.

In addition to its development work in South Africa and across the African continent, the foundation has international partnerships with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Milken Institute and various other philanthropic organisations. Moloi-Motsepe established African Fashion International (AFI) in 2007. AFI’s mission is to aggregate the fragmented fashion and clothing industry on the African continent to make it commercially viable and sustainable.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe holds an MBBCh and a diploma in child health from Wits, as well as a diploma in women’s health from Stellenbosch University. Dr Moloi-Motsepe authored a resource guide for women across South Africa, The Precious Little Black Book, and has produced the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative South Africa.

Her professional associations include the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women’s Leadership Board and Center for Public Leadership Council, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council and the Cancer Association of South Africa (past president).

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi congratulated Moloi-Motsepe on being elected as the university’s next chancellor and said she was delighted to have her join the university.

“I look forward to working closely with her, the Council and Leadership Lekgotla in steering the academic project at this special institution.

“We look forward to working with her in moving the university to the next level in achieving excellence in transformation, research, teaching and learning, and social responsiveness. Our current chancellor, Mrs Machel, has been such a support and leader for me and the executive of UCT, and I would like to express our deepest thanks to her.

“I am excited by the next partnership we will build with Dr Moloi-Motsepe.”

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