Farewell to Professor Ronnie and Dr Ally

29 June 2021 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

When we bid farewell to a colleague, there is always a sense of sadness for the gap this creates after they’ve made an indelible mark in their role.

This time around I pay tribute to the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Professor Linda Ronnie and the Executive Director of the Development and Alumni Department (DAD), Dr Russell Ally, as they are about to vacate the crucial roles they have held at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Dr Russell Ally

After nearly a decade of service to UCT, Dr Ally will take early retirement at the end of June 2021.

During his tenure, Dr Ally developed an integrated fundraising plan for the university and conceptualised and implemented the successful Distinguishing UCT Campaign (2015–2020) to strengthen the university’s unrestricted endowment. Throughout his term he established strong networks in all areas of the philanthropic funding environment. He made a significant contribution exploring new areas of funding and donor support, particularly internationally. He also developed an integrated alumni relations strategy aligned to the goals of excellence, transformation and sustainability. He provided leadership around UCT’s alumni relations in keeping with the university’s vision for transformation and building a new inclusive African identity for the institution.

Dr Ally was also instrumental in supporting the vice-chancellor and the executive leadership to advance the objectives of the university by aligning the development, fundraising and alumni strategies with the university’s strategic plans. He actively supported the university’s academic and administrative leadership throughout his term, serving on various university structures. Dr Ally was also a pivotal figure during periods of disruption, providing advice and guidance to the university leadership.

Within the university, Dr Ally’s visionary leadership led to the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies being incorporated into DAD in 2020, enabling the centre to work closely with the university’s alumni and Legacy Society members and to contribute to our social responsiveness initiatives.

As a UCT alumnus, Dr Ally has a strong affinity to the university. We are certain his commitment to UCT will continue. The university wishes Dr Ally every success. We express our gratitude to him for his significant contribution to UCT’s relationships and standing within the world of philanthropy and fundraising.

Following Dr Ally’s departure, Mr Sidney van Heerden will serve as acting DAD executive director.

Professor Linda Ronnie

You will recall that Professor Ronnie resigned as dean towards the end of last year, after expressing her wish to return to her academic role. However, she agreed to stay on until the end of June this year.

It is a sad moment for us as we are losing Professor Ronnie at leadership level, including the wealth of experience she accumulated over the years. She has taken the Faculty of Commerce to another level over the two years she has served as dean. Professor Ronnie was promoted to full professor in 2020 – the first woman of colour to achieve that rank in the Faculty of Commerce.

We are, however, happy that she is not going to be lost to UCT. She will continue with her excellent academic work.

She joined UCT in 2002 as a senior lecturer in human resource management and was appointed associate professor in organisational behaviour and people management in January 2017. Before joining UCT, she had spent 15 years in industry.

As the dean of Commerce since 2018, Professor Ronnie and her leadership team and faculty transformation committee have worked hard to embed transformation into the faculty’s mechanisms and processes. Their aim was to build capacity among black and female staff and overhaul the faculty’s global north-oriented curricula.

The university has commenced with the recruitment process for her successor and will make a further announcement in due course.

In the interim we have appointed Professor Edwin Muchapondwa to serve in this position until we make a permanent appointment.

You may also wish to note that Council, at its meeting on Saturday, 19 June 2021, approved the selection committee for the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation, Student Affairs and Social Responsiveness. The selection committee will now take up this important task in earnest.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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