Dear colleagues and students
After 15 years of dedication and service to the University of Cape Town (UCT), Dr Moonira Khan will retire from her position as Executive Director: Department of Student Affairs (ED:DSA) on 31 December 2020.
Dr Khan has been integral to running a department that truly works for students by leading and overseeing the areas of Student Development; Student Housing & Residence Life; Student Wellness Service and Student Funding & Administration.
Dr Khan’s vision has always been student-centred, with the aim of collaborating with students to create a holistic, multifaceted education where students are engaged not only in learning in the classroom, but also through social and community involvement. A core part of this has been strengthening relationships with and supporting all levels of student leadership.
In 2007 her vision for the UCT DSA and her achievements within the department were recognised when she received the Best Director Award from the National Association of Student Development.
Under her leadership, DSA has achieved significant milestones – including the introduction of a smartphone app where students can activate electronic lunch vouchers and the distribution of over 4 000 laptops to students who receive financial aid at UCT. Another highlight of her tenure was the establishment of a 24-hour toll free mental health helpline for UCT students in partnership with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. This is in addition to the various wellness and mental health workshops and services offered by the department.
During her time in a department responsible for student funding, the university launched the GAP funding programme to assist students who do not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme but whose families are unable to afford higher education, otherwise known as the ‘missing middle’. Her department also led the UCT Food Programme, established in 2018, and launched the Sustainable Residences Project to create awareness about sustainable living at residences.
While this year has been extremely challenging, as a department centred around the wellbeing of students, Dr Khan and her dedicated team have continued to make UCT students their priority. With her guidance the team has returned thousands of vulnerable students to campus so they could finish the year; provided students with access to medical and psychological services, both virtually and in-person; arranged the delivery of laptops to almost 2 000 students; and established a 24-hour COVID-19 hotline for students to access immediate assistance on all pandemic issues and link rapidly to the Department of Health.
In addition, they have formulated proactive strategies, public health interventions and ongoing monitoring in response to the pandemic, by realigning all Student Wellness Services clinic operations to support the health and safety of students and staff of the clinic; created clinical nursing hubs to conduct COVID-19 screening and support in the UCT residences; and conceptualised and developed quarantine and isolation procedures for students in residences, to prevent large cases of community transmission.
It is this dedication to the wellbeing of our students that has made Dr Khan’s input invaluable to the student experience at UCT. We are truly grateful to her for her many years of dedicated and exceptional service. Her determination and drive will be sincerely missed.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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