Tribute to West's contribution

10 March 2003

Moving on: The Student Development and Services Department paid tribute to Prof Martin West, who held the student affairs portfolio for 11 years (new DVC Dr Benito Khotseng has taken over this portfolio). The celebration was held at the Baxter Theatre Centre. West was photographed with former SRC president (1998) Monwabisi Luxande.

FRIENDS, colleagues, student leaders and student administrators gathered at the Baxter Theatre Centre recently to pay tribute to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin West and his contribution to student affairs over the past 11 years.

The celebration was organised by the Student Development and Services Department (SDSD). West has dedicated much of his career at UCT to student affairs, relinquishing this portfolio at the end of January this year, when the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Benito Khotseng, was appointed.

“Prof West's involvement in student affairs dates back to his days as a student leader working on Varsity,” Dean of Students Dr Loveness Kaunda noted.

“It continued with his appointment by former Vice-Chancellor Stuart Saunders as chair of the Sports Council, where he was responsible for the transformation we see now, and his appointment as DVC for student affairs in 1991. Having been dean (of students) for three years, I have the greatest respect for his long involvement in student affairs,” she remarked.

West has witnessed more than a decade of far-reaching changes while custodian of a challenging portfolio. “There have been significant changes in the composition of the student body, the transformation of residences and the shift from essentially protest student politics to a system of co-operative governance,” he summed up.

There have been many highlights, too. “I have worked with a succession of outstanding student affairs administrators and student leaders of exceptional quality,” he commented.

There has also been the satisfaction of having managed a “very significant” transformation process. He is also particularly proud of the way in which students and staff worked together on the Transformation Forum to reach agreement on a new mission statement, and on the composition of a new Council.

But these high points were also punctuated by many stressful moments; the student protests in the early 1990s; having to communicate with bereaved parents; and the disastrous Boom Shaka party, which West counts as “probably the all-time low”.

What aspect of the portfolio will he miss most? “The interaction with student leaders and the SDSD staff.” What will he miss least? “Long hours of negotiations!”

West counts the most valuable lesson of his tenure in student affairs as “the power of rational argument and debate in resolving areas of disagreement between students and the administration”.

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Volume 22 Edition 04

27 Mar 2003

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