I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Stuart Saunders for the courageous leadership he provided to the University of Cape Town (UCT) at a time of great risk and uncertainty for a country struggling to shed its racist legacy and embrace the opportunity of inclusion.
I am one of the beneficiaries of Stuart Saunders’ visionary leadership, which enabled me to not only enter academic life in my mature years, but to rise to becoming his successor as vice-chancellor of UCT. His ability to transcend the boundaries of his upbringing and to embrace the truism that there can be no excellence without equity, at a time when racist and sexist views were widespread in our society, placed him ahead of his peers and set UCT above the rest.
I had the privilege of not only being on his team as one of his deputies, but also to learn from his generosity during and afterwards. He taught me much more than can be enumerated here, but more importantly he ensured that I was connected into his networks, that to date remain critical to UCT’s fundraising successes. Above all, he remained my mentor after his retirement, welcoming me to the stoep at his home in Oranjezicht for much needed advice and sharing of the burdens and opportunities of leadership.
Stuart Saunders’ leadership style was enabling and combined hard work with fun for the team. The team bosberade (council meetings) were critical moments for learning to work together and to know one another as people. His wisdom and wit was remarkable
He has left an indelible, deep footprint on the institutional framework of UCT, for which we will remain grateful.
May his soul rest in peace.
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