Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 17 June

21 June 2023

Dear members of the UCT campus community

I write on behalf of the University of Cape Town (UCT) Council following its plenary meeting on 17 June 2023. It would ordinarily be the case that the chair of Council would update you following a Council meeting. In this instance, given the vacancy in the role of chair at the time of the meeting, and as I had chaired this meeting, this communique is issued by me in my capacity as the deputy chair.

We have reached the mid-point of the academic year, the exam cycle for the first semester has concluded and the mid-year vacation has begun. Council wishes to extend its gratitude to staff and students, and to the very many supporters of our institution for your efforts in ensuring that UCT continues to be impactful and relevant in the delivery of its teaching, research and social responsiveness undertakings. These core activities are exactly what defines UCT and will continue to ensure that the university meets its obligations to its community of multiple stakeholders.

Council membership and the election of Chair

UCT’s Council is composed of 30 members, 60% of whom must be external members, ie neither staff nor students. Council welcomed two new members to its fold for the balance of the current term to 30 June 2024. The new members are Mr Reeza Isaacs and Mr Norman Arendse (SC). This follows the earlier appointment of Ms Innocentia Pule as a ministerial representative.

Ms Pule has held executive positions for over 15 years, mainly within the financial services sector, notably Nedbank Ltd and the National Empowerment Fund. She has served on boards of various private and public entities.

Mr Isaacs is an experienced corporate board director with comprehensive understanding and knowledge of board dynamics and board effectiveness. He has worked across multiple business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, gas, asset management and insurance; and for a wide variety of entities, including professional services, listed, private and owner-managed entities. His most recent appointment has been as the group finance director for Woolworths Holdings Limited (2013–2023).

Ms Pule and Mr Isaacs were also appointed to the University Finance Committee, which Mr Isaacs will chair.

Mr Arendse is a senior practising advocate and a member of the Cape and Johannesburg Bars. The senior counsel status was conferred upon him in 1998. He was a member of the previous UCT Council, serving on its executive committee and as chair of the then Naming of Buildings Committee.

The appointment of Ms Pule, Mr Isaacs and Mr Arendse fills three vacancies on Council. The Appointments Committee of Council is giving further attention to filling the remaining vacancy and will do so having regard to the expertise areas as needed within Council.

Council also elected Mr Arendse to the role of chair. Council is confident that given Mr Arendse’s track record and extensive experience in governance, legal matters and leadership roles in national sports structures in South Africa as well as in the law profession as the first black chair of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa, he will represent Council and UCT very well in his role as chair.

Council appointed Mr Jacques Rousseau as the chair of the University Information and Communication Technology Committee; and Ms Nazeema Mohamed as a member of the Social, Ethics and Transformation Committee. In each of these cases the appointment is for the remainder of the term of office, ie until 30 June 2024.

Council thanks the above-mentioned colleagues for availing themselves to serve UCT alongside each of the other members of Council.

Executive appointments

Council places on record its appreciation for the contributions of outgoing Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Harsha Kathard, and outgoing Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar. Professor Kathard will return to her academic role in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the end of June 2023 and Dr Morar will take early retirement at the end of July 2023. Council has approved acting appointments in the DVC and COO portfolios and as soon as the contracts are finalised the vice-chancellor (interim) will make further announcements. Council wishes Professor Kathard and Dr Morar well in their future endeavours.

The 2022 Research Report

Council was pleased to receive and consider the 2022 Research Report, a record of outstanding work that UCT and its academics and researchers – supported by professional staff – are doing in this portfolio of UCT’s academic project. Council congratulates the DVC for research and internationalisation for her leadership in this regard, and the vice-chancellor and Senate for their stewardship of UCT’s academic enterprise, a core component of which is research.

We encourage you to read this important report, which will be made available in due course via the usual university platforms.

Policy approval

Council approved the Whistleblowing Policy as recommended by the University Audit and Risk Committee. This policy expands the existing whistleblowing guideline and reinforces the university’s commitment to combat unethical and dishonest conduct. The policy draws on existing legislation such as the Protected Disclosures Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. It also draws on existing UCT policies, such as the Fraud and Corruption Prevention Policy. It details reporting procedures as well as response handling. The policy will be effective from 1 July 2023.

Naming of buildings and spaces

The Naming of Buildings Committee made a number of recommendations to Council. Firstly, Council approved changes to the terms of reference of this committee, including a change to the name of the committee itself, which henceforth will be the University Naming Committee given that its remit will extend to naming virtual spaces and not only physical buildings and spaces. Virtual spaces have become an integral part of teaching, learning and research activities at UCT. The committee’s work will be informed by the African identity of the university, and by buildings, physical spaces and virtual spaces bearing names that create a more inclusive, diverse, multilingual and multicultural learning environment.

In addition, Council approved the following name changes:

  1. the Geological Sciences Extension Building is renamed the Properties and Services Administration Building
  2. the Anatomy Learning Centre is renamed Khoesisoros Museum (meaning ‘human body’)
  3. the Human Biology Learning Centre is renamed Kusrusenhare Teaching Lab (meaning ‘building a human body’)
  4. the Old Workshop Building in the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies is renamed Ephupheni (meaning ‘a place of limitless possibilities, time mutation, and future dreaming’).

Additionally, Council approved name changes for the Arena Theatre, the Studio on Dance Campus, and the Bindery Lab. These are subject to obtaining the approval of the families concerned before the specific names will be announced.

Council also adopted UCT’s 2022 consolidated annual financial statements and approved the Senate-recommended 2024 limits and targets for student enrolments.

The above is a summary of the key decisions Council made at the meeting. I thank you again for your efforts in support of our university, its mission and obligations. Our appreciation goes to students, staff and the many supporters of UCT.


Malcolm Campbell
Deputy Chair of Council

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