Farewell to COO: Dr Reno Morar

28 July 2023

Dear colleagues and students

After many years of dedicated service to the University of Cape Town (UCT) in various roles, Dr Reno Morar will leave the university at the end of July 2023.

Dr Morar, the inaugural chief operating officer (COO) at UCT, took up this position in February 2019. The COO oversees various relevant responsibilities that had previously resided among the then four deputy vice-chancellors: Human Resources, Information and Communication Technology Services, and Properties & Services; as well as the Environmental Sustainability directorate.

Some of the many highlights of his tenure as COO include:

  • ensuring that teaching, learning and research activities continue with minimal interruption in the face of the national loadshedding crisis
  • being a key part of the mediation team and process related to student fee debt
  • redefining the learning and working environment for students and staff, including the working from home approach, and the provision of necessary tools during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • leading the development of the policy framework for a return to UCT post-COVID-19, which guided faculties and departments on a smooth phased-in return to campus
  • spearheading the Drupal 9 implementation and website migration project
  • overseeing the implementation of the Disciplinary Policy and the Policy Addressing Bullying
  • overseeing bargaining engagements with UCT unions.

Dr Morar’s tenure as COO has been exemplified by the leadership that he has shown in difficult and challenging moments – both at faculty level in his previous roles and in his most recent role as COO – leadership that has been characterised by sensitivity, compassion, warmth and courage.

Most colleagues remember him as one whose wisdom always came to the fore, and who typically would present his input in three points! His views and advice on complex issues were always substantive and clear, and reflected a deep understanding of human nature. His wise counsel was regularly sought by many colleagues, and here I include myself. It has been a pleasure and huge privilege to have had Dr Morar as a trusted colleague.

We thank him for the exceptional leadership he has provided in this position as COO.

As deputy dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Morar provided guidance in the complex relationships, policies and processes between the university and the faculty, between the faculty and the provincial and national departments of health, as well as with health science faculties in other institutions. He also provided guidance between academic clinicians and the management establishments. I would highlight in particular, as a significant achievement, the role he played in leading the UCT faculty team in negotiations with the health departments in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, resulting in successful bilateral or multilateral agreements on issues such as specialist and sub-specialist medical training.

Earlier, as medical director of the Clothing Industry Health Care Fund from November 1997 to December 2007, he developed an entire health system to serve 110 000 clothing workers and their dependents. This involved negotiating the complexities of relationships between factory owners, unions and healthcare workers in the internal health system.

Allow me to express, on behalf of the university community, our utmost and heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Dr Morar for having been part of – and contributing so much to – this institution. I am sure that you join me in wishing him everything of the best as he embarks on a new set of challenges.

As a result of Dr Morar’s departure, Mr Mughtar Parker will take up the role of acting COO with effect from 1 August 2023 until 31 March 2024. Mr Parker will continue serving as Executive Director: Properties and Services, while taking on the additional responsibilities as acting COO, with the exception of Human Resources which will report to Professor Elelwani Ramugondo, the DVC for Transformation, Student Affairs and Social Responsiveness.

I welcome Mr Parker to the executive and look forward to working with him at this level.


Emer Prof Daya Reddy
Vice-Chancellor (interim)

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