UCT celebrates its 2022 retirees

26 October 2022 | Story Nicole Forrest. Photo Lerato Maduna. Video production team Roxanne Harris, Ruairi Abrahams, Boikhutso Ntsoko, Rozanne Engel. Read time 7 min.
UCT leadership and staff gathered for a celebration dinner on 25 October in honour of the 2022 UCT retirees.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) hosted a farewell dinner for the cohort of 2022 retirees on Tuesday, 25 October, celebrating the incredible contributions they have made to the university during the course of their collective tenure.

It was set to be a chilly evening as the Cape Doctor blew a gale over the city and mist rolled over the waters of Table Bay. But the blustery weather was no match for the warm atmosphere that emanated from the UCT Retirees’ Dinner at the Table Bay Hotel.

As is tradition, the fun-filled dinner brought the UCT community together to honour this year’s retirees for their service and to thank them for the many contributions they have made while at the institution. The event was a convivial evening of entertainment, speeches, photo opportunities and, of course, meaningful exchanges between colleagues.

Retirees Dinner
UCT Chair of Council Babalwa Ngonyama welcomed this year’s retirees to a dinner held in their honour.

A legacy to be proud of

Chair of Council Babalwa Ngonyama opened the event, welcoming the cohort and noting the effect that their many years of collective service have had both on UCT and the world.

“We are here today to celebrate the many lifetimes of service that you have all given to our university and to thank each and every one of you in this room for your commitment and your energy,” she said.

“This is a moment of immense pride and joy. It’s a moment of recognition for how far you have all come and to celebrate the contribution that you have made to this prestigious institution.”

Ngonyama said that it is the dedication and determination with which the retirees have approached their roles that have helped UCT overcome various challenges and make it the world-class institution that it is today


“It’s people like you who have made UCT.”

“I serve on a few boards – both local and international – and one thing that all of these institutions talk about is attracting the right people, developing the right people and retaining talented people. It’s people like you that we are talking about. It’s people like you who have made UCT,” she said.

She also noted that the legacy the retirees leave behind is a point of pride, both for them and the institution. This legacy, she said, will live on to benefit many generations to come.

“I am inspired by all of you. I am inspired, more so by what you have all [achieved] to date. As a university, our work is teaching. We do research, and through this, we contribute to our community, to our society and to the world at large. It is very clear in my mind that we could not have done this without you.

“You have made a huge contribution towards our Vision 2030 to unleash human potential at UCT. I want to assure you that your legacy is in safe hands. We shall build this university for generations to come so that future generations will benefit from your legacy.”

A new beginning

Reflecting on her UCT journey, Communications and Marketing manager for the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, Mary Hilton, said: "I have had the privilege of working with students from diverse backgrounds, many of them who face such adversity but have never given up. That is my greatest pride of being part of UCT: to see these young people develop and go out into the world and make a success of themselves,” she said".

Hilton, who retires at the end of 2022, said while the cohort is approaching the end of their journeys with UCT, there was still plenty for them to look forward to. “Retirement is not the end of the road, as the chairperson (Ngonyama) said, it is the beginning of the open highway.”

Professor of Higher Education Studies Alan Cliff echoed this sentiment as he shared his thoughts and reflections around retirement on behalf of the academic cohort of retirees.

As is tradition, the fun-filled dinner brought the UCT community together to honour this year’s retirees for their service and to thank them for the many contributions they have made while at the institution.

“I know very few academics who do not feel passionately about the university, and I believe it’s a sign of our dedication and commitment,” Professor Cliff said.

“I’m pretty confident that, for most of us, this is absolutely not an end point, a shutting down or maybe even a slowing down. We have every intention of continuing our intellectual lives, continuing to be scholars or, at the very least, choosing a different direction and pace to those intellectual lives.

“This is an inevitable time for reflection and taking stock, but it is also a moment to choose to continue engaging with our wonderful colleagues at the university and in our community, or to choose to step away for something new or different – or perhaps something in between,” he said.

Those retirees who continue to have a relationship with the university, Cliff pointed out, have an important role to play in the evolution of the institution.

“The vast majority of retiring academics continue to hold affiliations with the university and will continue to engage with the present and future versions of the academy while holding a very important reflective and appraising view of the past in the mirror,” he explained.

Well wishes from the VC

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng raised a toast to the retirees in honour of the contributions they have made to UCT.

“There’s an African proverb that says, ‘Knowledge is a garden. If it isn’t cultivated, you can’t harvest it.’ So, colleagues, as you enter life after UCT, I wish you a garden rich with knowledge of the things you love most.

“May you find ways to cultivate talents that you may not know you have, to focus your rich skills on things that make your life meaningful and happy. Most of all, I hope you create new ways to give and receive love to everyone special in your life,” she said.

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Highlights from 2022


As we look back on 2022, we celebrate some of the stories that were popular with readers of the UCT News website during the year.

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