Dear members of the UCT community
A meeting of the new Council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) was convened on 11 July 2020. The Council, constituted in terms of a revised institutional statute as gazetted earlier in 2020, welcomed continuing and new members.
The Council’s most immediate task was to elect office-bearers to chair the key governance committees of the university.
I am honoured to have been elected chairperson of the Council, with Nazeema Mohamed fulfilling the important role of deputy chairperson. Each of us has had the benefit of having served on the previous Council, and with the support of the full Council – continuing and new members alike – we are confident that our governance body is well-placed to fulfill its obligations to the University over the next four years.
The Council also elected the chairpersons and members of the various committees of Council, the details of which will be announced separately. The full Council details are available on the UCT website.
As the new Council, we are privileged to have the opportunity to serve UCT and its community of students, staff, members of the alumni community all over the world, and the very many supporters and friends of the institution. We are a university that thrives because of our multiple stakeholders, the academic successes of our students, the quality of our research, the societal impact of what we do, the boldness of our transformation goals and the values that UCT represents.
The Council has noted the UCT Ombud’s report for 2019 which has resulted in various reports in the media. The Office of the Ombud is an independent office that reports to Council. As such the decision to release such a report is the responsibility of the Council. Due process was not followed in the release of this report which is deeply regrettable. As the new Council we are committed to ensuring that the institutional mechanisms to safeguard the integrity of the University’s processes are strengthened with due respect for the principles of administrative justice and protection of the rights of all concerned.
Being a new governing board, the Council has the opportunity to start afresh, to restate its commitment to the mission of our university – which we do - and to support the members of the university executive in their leadership and management of the university. The Council is aware of the many past and more recent successes of the university, and the collective contributions of the Vice-Chancellor and her senior executive team in leading and managing UCT during these extremely demanding times. Council is committed to working in the best interest of UCT and is particularly mindful that the statement of values of the university is a framework that will guide its action, and expect that it will similarly continue to apply to all members of the university.
UCT is rooted in wider society. UCT’s scholars are widely acknowledged for the societal value in their work. The achievements of students are understandably often a matter of public interest, as are many events and developments at UCT. Many of the academic leaders of higher education in South Africa and at UCT are opinion makers, and they too attract wider public attention. There will, however, be occasions when matters affecting UCT and members of its community are not appropriate for public discourse. In such instances Council will continue to ensure that these are attended to through the appropriate internal mechanisms of the university and will therefore not comment publicly.
We acknowledge the very real challenges that COVID-19 has presented, and we applaud the efforts of the UCT executive and the extended leadership, and the members of the wider UCT community, during this very difficult period of uncertainty. Thank you to donors and alumni who continue to support our institution in these unprecedented times. The efforts to continue the academic project, and the sacrifices by staff and students, are certainly noted. Similarly, the fortitude and conviction that members of our community continue to show.
There is much to be proud of at UCT, and much remains to be done and Council will support all these efforts in the interest of UCT.
Chair of UCT Council
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