In gratitude to the UCT community

12 December 2019 | From the Chancellor

Dear colleagues and students

It has been my great honour to serve as the chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) for the last 20 years. South Africa has undergone unique and tremendous socio-economic transformation during this time, and the many changes, celebrations and challenges we experienced at UCT were a reflection of these nationwide shifts. I am very grateful for the privilege of having shared these experiences with the UCT community.

In my capacity as chancellor I have had the opportunity to work closely with four outstanding vice-chancellors: Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Dr Max Price and Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. While they each demonstrated a different leadership style, they all shared a deep commitment to the growth of UCT as a research-based institution of teaching and learning. They have ensured UCT is positioned as a top-ranked university in Africa, and indeed globally. They inspired me with their focus on making UCT a place where change would happen: not just the transformation of the university itself – to which they have each contributed – but also to the transformation of our society through socially responsive research and teaching. This is an important priority for all institutions of higher education, and I am proud that UCT is leading in this mission.

I thank Mamphela, Njabulo, Max and Kgethi for their commitment to the pursuit of excellence in higher education. I also thank the UCT Council for its leadership; the alumni for keeping close to their alma mater and for their support of the university in so many different ways; the executive for its creative responses to the many different challenges that have emerged along the way; the academic staff for their unswerving dedication to understanding the foundations of our world; and the administrative and professional staff, who work tirelessly to ensure that the university remains unparalleled on the continent.

The student body is the raison d’être of this university whose vibrancy has consistently challenged the status quo and pushed the boundaries of transformation in the right direction. I thank the students for inspiring me with their courage, enthusiasm and their vision to drive transformation. I know many come to university with life stories of difficulty and struggle, which makes their achievements all the more commendable.

Being so intimately involved with such a reputable African tertiary institution has been a deeply gratifying and enriching experience for me. I am proud of the many contributions we, as Africans, have given to the global academic fraternity and the influential role we play on the continent and in South Africa as a leading university. But there is always more work to be done. As such, if there is one issue where I wish we would have made more progress, it is that of tackling this horrific cancer of gender-based violence.

In hindsight, I also would have liked to have left our Chancellor Fund with much richer coffers to further bolster the financial sustainability of this fine institution. I will keep a keen eye on these two important matters and support developments in these arenas where it is appropriate for me to do so.

I am proud that the manifestation of the kind of transformation we are seeking is visible as I confidently leave UCT in the capable hands of two highly qualified, extraordinarily dynamic young African women. With my successor, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Phakeng at the helm of UCT, I have no doubt we will soar to new heights.

In gratitude

Graça Machel
UCT Chancellor

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