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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COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020.
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. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.
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.