Dear students and colleagues
On Saturday, 20 June 2020, members of the University of Cape Town (UCT) Council 2016/20 met for the final time, as their four-year term of service ends on 30 June. I would like to give you a glimpse into the many ways these 30 loyal individuals have kept UCT on a firm footing through four years of historic challenges in higher education.
This Council has governed the university through #FeesMustFall and #PatriarchyMustFall protests; our transition to insourcing; the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission; the debate over whether to boycott Israeli academic institutions; tragedies such as the death of Professor Bongani Mayosi in 2018 and the rape and murder of first-year student Uyinene Mrwetyana in 2019; crises such as the Western Cape water shortage of 2018 and the current COVID-19 pandemic; the renaming of Sarah Baartman Hall and other buildings; the end of Graça Machel’s term of office as chancellor and the appointment of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe to replace her; and a range of appointments at executive level, including the transition from the leadership of Dr Max Price to my own appointment as vice-chancellor.
Council steers the critical decisions in the running of UCT. Council members include executive officers, UCT staff members, students, and persons who are neither members of staff nor students of the institution. They are appointed by a wide range of constituencies and bring a diverse range of skills, backgrounds and talents to their task. This Council is an example of excellence through diversity, with 70% black members (from 43% in the previous council) and 40% women (from 37%).
I want to give special recognition to Chair of Council Mr Sipho Pityana; his successive deputy chairpersons, Ms Debbie Budlender and Professor Shirley Zinn; the chairs of the committees of Council; and all the members who have taken the time to serve on those committees, task teams and various selection committees to deal with specific issues and questions about UCT’s work.
While higher education institutions around the world are struggling, this Council is leaving UCT in a positive financial position, with another unqualified audit for UCT for the 2019 year. This means that we can proceed with planned infrastructure developments, provide more funding for student financial aid, and are able to respond effectively and efficiently to the additional needs that have risen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to this stable foundation, we can build for the future through UCT’s Vision 2030. This will, of course, be with the help of the new Council, which will take office from 1 July 2020.
Meanwhile, please join me in thanking the current Council members for their sacrifice of time, hard work and energy to uphold the high standards that continue to keep UCT among the world’s top universities.
With kind regards
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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