2019 was my final year as Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), capping 20 years of change, enrichment and growth for myself and the institution. When I took up this office in 1999, Dr Mamphela Ramphele was the vice-chancellor, and UCT became the first university in Africa with two black women at the helm. Now, 20 years later, I am so proud to be leaving UCT in the capable hands of two extraordinary young women in the roles of chancellor and vice-chancellor. By the end of 2019, under Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, all of UCT’s academic executive positions were held by women from different disciplines, races and backgrounds.
Of course, transformation still has a long way to go everywhere in the world, perhaps especially so in gender equality. This is why the vice-chancellor allocated scholarships for women researchers worth R22.5 million in 2019 to help us all reconsider our views of gender in South Africa and to pave the way for these new researchers to influence fields of study previously dominated by men.
Over the past 20 years, we have seen a new generation of academics begin to emerge across UCT. They help to build diversity while sharing a commitment to excellence in higher education. They provide inspiration for every UCT graduate to become a potential leader. Through these exceptional lives, UCT is helping to transform South Africa and the world.
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