I am writing to inform you that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has taken the important decision to adopt an integrated approach to address the overlapping findings of three critical reports: the 2019 Staff Inclusivity Survey (IS), Professor Bongani Mayosi’s Panel Enquiry (MPE), and the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC).
We were persuaded of the importance of taking this step, despite the differing scope of these reports, because of the seriousness with which we view the key common points of contention that emerged. These include Bullying, Emotional Wellbeing, Racial and other forms of discrimination and harassment, and Retention, Advancement and Leadership.
As we continue to grapple with the full implications of the contents, let me say that UCT’s chosen approach paves the way to integrate the work of our DVC: Transformation Professor Loretta Feris and Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar. They will in turn enjoy the support of an Inclusivity Strategy Advisory Group (ISAG), tasked with monitoring our university’s response, and an Inclusivity Strategy Working Group (ISWG) who will have oversight for implementing appropriate interventions.
At the same time, the university leadership recognises that there are also issues that are specific to particular faculties and departments. The complexity and uniqueness of these necessitates a bespoke approach, and members of leadership teams will assume responsibility here. I encourage them to consult the Transformation Benchmarks and their respective Transformation Committees for insight, and to communicate details of any initiatives for change to all staff, in the interests of transparency.
I also encourage them to contact the ISWG through Nina Barnes, our Institutional Culture Specialist with the Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC) at email@example.com, for clarity on the development of their individual strategies in line with the Template: Individualised Indicators of Success. The deadline for the inclusion plans is set for 30 November 2020, but I am cognisant of the constraints associated with off-campus operations due to the lockdown. If faculties or departments are struggling to complete their inclusion plans, they can contact the OIC at firstname.lastname@example.org for support. Inclusion plans are to be approved by the Deans or Executive Directors and submitted to the DVC/COO to which the faculty or department reports.
All three reports have served up hard truths and highlighted avoidable mistakes. But they also provided invaluable insights, important lessons, and recommendations for improvement. As such, our intention is to conduct similar surveys to build on this baseline data and to assess our consequent interventions at the end of 2023, unless the COVID-19 situation dictates otherwise.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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