Celebrating the life of Dr Stuart Saunders

18 February 2021 | From Kgethi

Dear colleagues and students

Late last week we were saddened to announce the passing of former University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor, Dr Stuart Saunders (89), who died in his sleep on 12 February 2021 following a short illness.

While we remain devastated by the loss of a man who made such a huge contribution to the institution and to the higher education sector, we also wish to reflect on and celebrate his life. We will therefore host a virtual memorial service for Emeritus Professor Saunders on Wednesday, 24 February 2021 at 19:00 SAST via the MS Teams platform.

You are all invited to join the UCT leadership and Saunders’s children, John and Jane, as we remember and celebrate our former VC.

Those who may wish to post tributes and personal memories are invited to do so by emailing rememberingstuartsaunders@uct.ac.za. The university has also created a dedicated feature page paying tribute to Saunders through articles, images and video.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Friends of Valkenberg Trust. Alternatively, those who wish to do so may make donations in Saunders’s memory to the Stuart & Anita Saunders Bursary Fund by giving to the UCT UK Trust (UK residents); the UCT Fund Inc of NY (USA); or the UCT Foundation.

We will always remember and cherish Dr Saunders for all his accomplishments, for leading UCT from 1981 until 1996, and for serving the university in various countless roles before and even after his term as VC.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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Dr Stuart Saunders


The University of Cape Town (UCT) hosted an online memorial service for former Vice-Chancellor Dr Stuart Saunders on 24 February. Dr Saunders was a dedicated servant, steward and supporter of UCT. He passed away on Friday morning, 12 February 2021.

Stuart John Saunders was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on 28th August 1931. After graduating MBChB with honours in 1953 at the University of Cape Town, he did post-graduate research at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith in London and at Harvard University. He received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1965 (University of Cape Town). He began his administrative career as the University of Cape Town’s Head of the Department of Medicine (1971-1980) and was co-founder of the university’s Liver Clinic & Liver Research Unit (a field in which he wrote some two hundred articles and co-authored a study that has become a classical reference). He was Vice-Chancellor from January 1981 to August 1996.

You are welcome to send your tributes, or share your memories – and these will be shared on this page.






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