Dear colleagues and students
It has been four months since the University of Cape Town suspended all mass gatherings on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and three and a half months since the start of the national lockdown declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March. While some restrictions have been eased over the past few weeks, we are still unable to host events on campus and have therefore decided to move certain 2020 events online.
In light of this, I write to share details on some of the virtual events that are scheduled to take place over the next few weeks. These include standard annual events on the UCT calendar such as the Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture, the VC Inaugural Lecture series, the TB Davie Memorial Lecture and the Women’s Month commemoration event. It also includes events such as the #NewGlobalUni series and the Vision 2030 staff engagements:
VC Open Lecture
The first virtual Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture for 2020 will be held today from 18:00 on the Microsoft Teams platform. Titled “From a two-speed economy to one for all South Africans”, the lecture will be presented by Colin Coleman, senior fellow and lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
TB Davie Memorial Lecture
The annual lecture, organised by the Academic Freedom Committee (AFC), will take place on Wednesday, 5 August 2020 at 18:00. It will be delivered by guest speaker Professor Ravi Kanbur. I will write with more details on this lecture in the next few days.
VC Inaugural Lectures
Some of the events in the VC Inaugural Lecture series will be moved online too. These include a lecture by Professor Hussein Suleman, the head of the department of Computer Science. He will present on “Computer Science at times of crisis: reflecting on societal drivers for software and algorithm design”. The lecture will be held on 30 September 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put in the spotlight inequalities in the higher education sector, which are reinforced by the current model of internationalisation which excluded those who had no means of travelling to attend academic conferences. In order to rethink this old model, UCT is hosting a series of virtual events: “Unleashing the new global university”, with the first held on Monday, 29 June 2020 and the second on 13 July. Other events in this series will be as follows:
Open PASS Forum: Return to campus framework
As part of efforts to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the university will continue to limit the number of people on campus, and has developed a COVID-19 return to UCT policy framework. In order to engage with staff on this, COO Dr Reno Morar will host an open PASS Forum virtually on 6 August 2020.
Women’s Month: For Womxn By Womxn
While women are honoured throughout the year at UCT, they are further celebrated in August with a special focus on those who have achieved greatness in their fields. This year, the annual Women’s Month event will be held online. Our Chancellor, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, has been earmarked as the keynote speaker, while panellists will include ForWomxnByWomxn Scholarship recipients. Further details will be shared later.
Vision 2030 staff engagements
When campus was vacated, the executive was in the process of engaging with staff to reflect on progress made in developing a strategy that looks to the future, focusing on challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we move towards 2030. I am therefore excited to announce that these discussions that will focus on ensuring that the UCT of tomorrow is responsive to the needs of future generations have moved online. A number of sessions will be held with various staff groupings, with the details set to be shared in the next few weeks.
One obvious opportunity that moving these events online brings is the fact that there is no restriction on the number of people who can attend. Please feel free to save these dates and join us for these events.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March. The intention of these drastic measures is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected. Although South Africa has recently reached a peak of COVID-19 infections, the country is expecting a surge in positive cases in August.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.