The Next Generation Professoriate turns six

04 November 2021 | Story Robert Morrell. Read time 10 min.
The cohort at Mont Fleur: Back (left to right): Yumna Albertus, Freedom Gumedze, LeeAnn Tong, Rethabile Possa-Mogoera, Emese Bordy, Shari Daya, Sylvia Bruinders, Frank Matose, Lebo Mateane, Lebo Ramma, Pragashni Padayachee, Sedi Namane. Front (left to right): Corrinne Shaw, Chun-Sung Huang, Robert Morrell, Snazo Sidodo, Bob Osano, Kate le Roux, Anwar Jardine. <b>Photo</b>&nbsp;Ricardo Adams.
The cohort at Mont Fleur: Back (left to right): Yumna Albertus, Freedom Gumedze, LeeAnn Tong, Rethabile Possa-Mogoera, Emese Bordy, Shari Daya, Sylvia Bruinders, Frank Matose, Lebo Mateane, Lebo Ramma, Pragashni Padayachee, Sedi Namane. Front (left to right): Corrinne Shaw, Chun-Sung Huang, Robert Morrell, Snazo Sidodo, Bob Osano, Kate le Roux, Anwar Jardine. Photo Ricardo Adams.

On 29 September 2015, the Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) was officially launched at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It was conceived as a mid-career academic intervention, designed to support staff in their career paths and especially to attain promotion to associate or full professorship. It was a project housed in and funded by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. Looking back over six years, Robert Morrell reflects on achievements and challenges and surveys current activities.

A starting point to assess the programme would be the number of members who have been promoted. Thirty-two staff members have been promoted, five to full professor, 27 to associate professor. Most of these have achieved ad hominem promotion but some have successfully applied for professorships in an open selection process of advertised positions. Considering that the cohort started with 35 and increased to the current complement of 45, this is a good proportion of members.

In July 2016, 16 members of the NGP were members of Senate. By July 2020, the number had increased to 21. As the contributions to this newsletter show, members of the NGP have risen to positions of leadership and responsibility at UCT. Amongst the current NGP members in positions of Head of Department (HoD) are Freedom Gumedze (Statistical Sciences), Bodhi Kar (Historical Studies), Manya Mooya (Construction Economics and Management), Lebo Ramma (Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) and Kurt Campbell (Michaelis School of Fine Art). Frank Matose is acting head of the Department of Sociology and Deano Stynder is interim head of the Department of Archaeology. For 2022, Phumla Sinxadi (Clinical Pharmacology), Maureen Tanner (Information Systems), Lydia Cairncross (Surgery) and Anwar Jardine (Chemistry) have been selected to headship.

These figures suggest that the NGP has become a leadership cohort, a group of staff members who over the period of their membership of the NGP have developed the talents to lead and to take responsibility and have, at the same time, been given the confidence of their colleagues.

The NGP has been located in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation. Emeritus Professor Martin Hall has been acting DVC and has gotten to know a lot about the programme.

“Universities have a strong and enduring tradition of academic leadership, which has long been at odds with trends in corporate governance. But today, it is increasingly appreciated that the complexity and pace of the decisions that have to be made in any organisation require a different approach, that is deeply grounded in an understanding of complexity and that is open to new ideas, creativity and the search for new knowledge. The NGP project serves as a living laboratory for these principles, bringing together people from a wide range of disciplines and fields of practice. As those in the NGP community move into senior leadership positions in our university they will take the work of transformation forward in ways that build on the traditions of the academy while addressing the full complexity of the emerging future.”

Building a heart

Another less tangible achievement of the NGP lies in the development of gees. It was always the ambition of the cohort to become something more than the sum of the parts. Launched at a tense time with #RhodesMustFall in full swing on campus, feelings of alienation and suspicion were common. Trust and collegiality were rare resources. In this environment, when the explicit goal was to contribute to a new inclusive institutional culture, I took the view that maximum openness was the best policy.


“I focused on what binds people together, what academics have in common. I highlighted anxiety and ambitions, hopes and disillusionment, joys and sadness. I focused on our common humanity.”

Shari Daya has named my approach as leadership with care. I have always thought of academia as one of the caring professions, a form of teaching where the wellbeing of the learner (not just their skills and knowledge) should be the focus of effort and the test of success. Kurt Campbell feels that the leader of the NGP has the responsibility for “uniting scholars and making them feel able to overcome barriers through conversation”. And, he says, “Leadership has to be discharged with passion”.

When I attend writing retreats, as we did at Mont Fleur in October, I feel that I have achieved my greatest purpose. The NGP has brought people together, it has created new networks, it has produced a place of friendship, trust, laughter and conversation. It accommodates a wide range of views which reflects the diversity of its membership.

The NGP has developed through the writing retreats, one per quarter. These have been the flagship activities but they have not been the only activities. Quarterly teas and lunches, various meetings, seminars and workshops have provided opportunities for NGP members to meet in a context where, ordinarily, their paths wouldn’t cross. NGP members come from all the different UCT campuses and its seven faculties and in the ordinary run of affairs, staff operate in quite small, self-contained silos.

New knowledges, Southern theory and service

Amongst the projects that the NGP has housed is the Southern Theory Reading Group. UCT has long promoted inter- and trans-disciplinary scholarship and it was my responsibility when I was coordinator of PERC (the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity) in the Research Office to encourage interdisciplinary research. It was this task that led to an interest in Southern theory and to the invitation of Raewyn Connell (University of Sydney) to visit UCT in 2011. At a Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture, Raewyn spoke about her 2007 book, Southern Theory.

The interest in Southern theory has grown globally and in South Africa and is part of debates about decolonization. In the NGP, I hosted a reading group on Southern theory which included Vanessa Watson, professor of urban planning at UCT and a major global figure in theorising planning in the South. Vanessa was a loyal participant in the reading group. We commemorated her sad passing with a lunch at the Alphen Hotel where scholars from many different disciplines attested to the success of Southern theory in transcending disciplinary boundaries.

Remembering Vanessa Watson at the Alphen
Remembering Vanessa Watson at the Alphen. From Left to Right: Robert Morrell, Ameeta Jaga, Sophie Oldfield, Laura Czerniewicz, Anye Nyamnjoh, Manya Mooya, Ralph Hamann, Philippa Tumubweinee, Rick de Satgé and Kate le Roux. Photo Ralph Borland.

In this newsletter we also hear about the achievements and endeavours of NGP members. Ameeta Jaga describes her work that pushes the boundaries in her discipline of organisational psychology by drawing on Southern theory and applying this approach to exploring new methodologies and to her research work on breastfeeding in the workplace.

Waheeda Amien (Public Law) is an invited member of South African Law Reform Commission’s Advisory Committee to review aspects of Matrimonial Property Law. She brings to her work an expert knowledge of Muslim family law and gender developed over more than two decades.

Amir Patel received a Young Researcher Award from UCT’s College of Fellows and his work on cheetahs once again featured on the cover of a major journal. He plans to use his understanding of the cheetah’s tail in the field of robotics to contribute to neurological and orthopaedic rehabilitation and is exploring how his scientific findings can be used to address global health issues involving connections between humans, animals and the environment.

Retirement reflections

I retire at the end of 2021 and have been reflecting on my work in the NGP. I recently read Abraham Verghese’s 2010 novel, Cutting for Stone, a novel about twins born on a mission station in Addis Ababa. Verghese is a doctor himself so the novel focuses on the body and disease and especially surgery. It features a doctor, Dr Abhi Ghosh, who also does some lecturing. Ghosh is a father to the twins. His belief about teaching is captured with 3Ls, “Loving, Learning, Legacy”. I find this inspiring.

Verghese’s own views on teaching are set out in a 2018 article What this computer needs is a physician: Humanism and artificial intelligence in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The paper explores five practices that enhance the practice of a doctor: preparing with intention, listening intently and completely, agreeing on what matters most, connecting with the patient’s story, and exploring emotional cues. In an interview, Verghese notes that “Ultimately, the patient–physician interaction is one human being coming to another in distress. All the data in the world can’t substitute for one’s desire to be comforted by another human being”.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing to leave a legacy of loving and learning?

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Next Generation Professoriate (NGP)


The Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) is a mid-career academic staff development and support programme. Funded by the vice-chancellor’s Strategic Funds, the NGP addresses demographic inequalities in the academic hierarchy. The goal is to help members become associate and full professors.

The NGP was officially launched in September 2015. By the end of 2018, four of its members had been promoted to full professor and a further 14 had reached the rank of associate professor.

The programme is led by Dr Robert Morrell, who has over 35 years of academic experience in South African universities. He has a B1-rating from the the National Research Foundation (NRF) and is an elected member of the Academy of Sciences in South Africa.



November 2021 10:00, 5 November 2021
April 2021 10:00, 13 April 2021
March 2020 10:47, 31 March 2020
August 2019 12:31, 17 September 2019
January 2019 09:20, 21 January 2019
October 2018 09:20, 10 October 2018
August 2018 16:00, 3 August 2018
April 2018 14:15, 20 April 2018
February 2018 18:00, 10 February 2018
October 2017 12:00, 10 October 2017
May 2017 09:30, 9 May 2017
March 2017 12:00, 5 March 2017
January 2017 12:00, 30 January 2017


In the news

Amir Patel – moving like a cheetah Amir Patel has been following in the footsteps of the cheetah. 04 Nov 2021
Sharief Hendricks: rugby player, researcher and new member of the Future Professors Programme President-elect of the South African Sports Medicine Association, NGP member Sharief Hendricks was recently selected to be a member of the Future Professors Programme. 29 Apr 2021
Next Generation Professoriate: maturation and lockdown With a current cohort of 45 members, the Next Generation Professoriate has weathered the lockdown and continues to support staff on their paths to professorship. 13 Apr 2021
Rethabile Possa-Mogoera: new member of the NGP Dr Rethabile Possa-Mogoera was recently nominated by the Faculty of Humanities as a new member of the Next Generation Professoriate. 13 Apr 2021
Sharief Hendricks: rugby player, researcher and new member of the Future Professors Programme President-elect of the South African Sports Medicine Association, NGP member Sharief Hendricks was recently selected to be a member of the Future Professors Programme. 13 Apr 2021
Ameeta Jaga: thinking about work–family balance Associate Professor Ameeta Jaga has taken a multidisciplinary approach to answer research questions about South Africa’s low breastfeeding rates, especially among employed mothers. 13 Apr 2021
Zarina Patel leads project for sustainable urban transformation Zarina Patel continues to lead research and build collaborations in the area of sustainable urban transformation. 13 Apr 2021
Afton Titus: seeking a new tax system for Africa Afton Titus has an interest in national and multinational tax systems, with a research focus on ensuring fairer distribution of tax revenue. 13 Apr 2021
Amir Patel and Mohohlo Tsoeu each win Google Research Scholar Awards Associate Professor Amir Patel and Dr Mohohlo Tsoeu have each been awarded a 2021 Google Research Scholar Award for early-career researchers. 13 Apr 2021
Next Generation Professoriate back at Zevenwacht The Next Generation Professoriate cohort recently gathered at Zevenwacht for a writing retreat a year after its previous visit. 13 Apr 2021
Lebogang Ramma: reflections on becoming and being a head of department Associate Professor Lebogang Ramma, head of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, reflects on what it has been like to lead an academic department. 13 Apr 2021
Afton Titus: ad hom promotion four months after PhD Just four months after graduating with her PhD, Associate Professor Afton Titus is one of several UCT academics to achieve a 2020 ad hominem promotion. 01 Dec 2020
Men, gender equality and the search for gender harmony As South Africa started its 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, UCT gender scholar Dr Rob Morrell talks about masculinities and gender relations. 26 Nov 2020
UCT’s Prof Ed February bows out gracefully Associate Professor Edmund February’s 20-year journey with UCT will come to a close at the end of the year. 10 Nov 2020
Rhodes’ Distinguished Alumni Award for Robert Morrell UCT social scientist and gender and masculinities scholar Dr Robert Morrell has been awarded a Rhodes University 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. 16 Oct 2020
Elaine Govender-Opitz – member, Future Professors Programme Elaine Govender-Opitz was recently selected to be a member of the Future Professors Programme, a national academic staff development initiative. 31 Mar 2020
Shari Daya on decolonising Geography Shari Daya reflects on the state of geography and the need for South Africa’s higher education system to decolonise the discipline. 31 Mar 2020
Bongi Bangeni promoted to associate professor Dr Bongi Bangeni was promoted to associate professor in January 2020. 31 Mar 2020
NGP researchers breaking barriers in biomechanics technology Dr Amir Patel’s fascination with robotic design has broken barriers in the measurement of human movement and biomechanics. 31 Mar 2020
Aneesa Vanker promoted to associate professor Aneesa Vanker from the Division of Paediatric Pulmonology at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital was recently promoted to associate professor. 31 Mar 2020
Sylvia Bruinders – Music and Art in Lesotho In January Sylvia Bruinders, head of African Music and Ethnomusicology, visited Lesotho to conduct fieldwork for a project on indigenous music and art. 31 Mar 2020
Next Generation Professoriate updates In January 2020 eight Next Generation Professoriate members were promoted to associate professors. 31 Mar 2020
Lydia Cairncross promoted to associate professor Lydia Cairncross was recently promoted to associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences. 31 Mar 2020
Jabulani Ncayiyana – member, Future Professors Programme Jabulani Ncayiyana was recently selected to be a member of the Future Professors Programme. 31 Mar 2020
NGP Road-Runners 21 Aug 2019
What the scientist learned from the cheetah’s tail From a cheetah’s tail to professional athletes: UCT researchers are using robotics to study how bodies move. 26 Apr 2019
Balancing the global economy of knowledge The authority of northern-centred knowledge formation continues to grow, but the global south is showing significant evidence of change and contestation. 26 Mar 2019 Republished
Meet Baleka, Africa’s first two-legged robot Baleka – a jumping, two-legged robot developed at UCT – is helping researchers figure out new ways for robots to move and inspire young scientists. 25 Mar 2019
Out-of-the-box thinker wins a Premier’s Award UCT alumnus and Next Generation Professoriate member Dr Mosedi Namane was named the bronze winner in her category at the 2018 Western Cape Premier’s Service Excellence Awards. 14 Mar 2019
‘I want to reach the places my father did not’ Tafadzwa Mushonga will be the first PhD graduate from the Centre for Environmental Humanities South, forging ahead from where her father left off. 10 Dec 2018
Never too late to overcome the odds PhD candidate Witness Kozanayi relied on his determination, the support and sacrifice of others, and a fascination for his homeland to fuel his academic success. 07 Dec 2018
UCT boosts transformation in accounting An innovative partnership between UCT and two other universities, in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, has secured top-quality accounting degrees for students in those provinces. 31 Oct 2018
Transformation crucial ‘at all levels’ at UCT UCT must follow the transformation of the demographics of its student population with similar changes in the professoriate, says Associate Professor Manya Mooya. 23 Oct 2018
Honours for UCT’s sports stars A year of noteworthy achievements, grit and determination was marked as UCT celebrated its sportspeople at the Sports Awards Dinner on 19 October. 22 Oct 2018
New giant dinosaur: an evolutionary experiment The largest dinosaur to be discovered in South Africa may have been an evolutionary ‘experiment’ in walking on four legs. 04 Oct 2018
New commerce research unveiled, TED-style The commerce faculty’s Cape Town Alumni Chapter recently hosted the second in the UCT Talks series, a TED-styled showcase of new faculty research. 04 Oct 2018
Ed February wins Hamilton Naki Award Associate Professor Edmund February has been honoured for “achieving world-class research performance despite considerable challenges”. 29 Sep 2018
Put yourself out there, urges Mbatani With a goal of professional and self-development, senior lecturer Dr Nomonde Mbatani has joined UCT’s Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) programme. 04 Jul 2018
First fruits of Fogarty HIV-TB training programme It’s onward and upward for the Fogarty HIV-associated TB Training Program, which has provided vital training to postgraduates in its first year of operation. 12 Jun 2018
Take the gap: A professor in training A TV interview with Tim Noakes introduced Livingstone high-schooler Yumna Albertus to a career in sport and science. Now she’s training for a bigger target. 05 Jun 2018
Negotiating learning and identity The lived experiences of working-class and rural black students are the subject of a new book edited by Dr Bongi Bangeni and Associate Professor Rochelle Kapp. 19 Dec 2017
Dust storm Mars rover mission How do you drive the Mars rover? In a first-for-Africa mission, UCT student Samuel Anih piloted the rover using something slightly surprising. 15 Aug 2017
Failure to recognise religious marriages in South Africa may point to a lack of political will South Africa’s constitution allows for laws to be passed that recognise religious and traditional marriages as well as personal and family law systems. These are systems that regulate marriage, divorce, matters affecting children - including guardianship, custody, access, maintenance and inheritance. 15 May 2017
The power and politics of prefixes Using the correct prefixes when referring to local languages in English is a matter of both linguistic and political necessity, says UCT linguist Dr Mantoa Motinyane-Masoko. 13 Mar 2017
Success for Next Generation Professoriate Four candidates from the Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) have been promoted to professor or associate professor level in the most recent round of ad hominem promotions. 03 Mar 2017
Tackling diseases with numbers Dr Freedom Gumedze (UCT Department of Statistical Sciences) and Professor Jane Hutton (University of Warwick) recently hosted a workshop on multivariate longitudinal and survival data analysis in medical research. 16 Feb 2017
Back by popular demand In a meeting held in Benin last year, Dr Heather Marco, a member of UCT's Next Generation Professoriate, was elected for the third consecutive time to serve on the executive committee of AGNES (the African–German Network of Excellence in Science). 18 Jan 2017
Iconic conifers under threat A team of UCT ecologists has used repeat photography to study the decline of the critically endangered Clanwilliam cedar. Their findings, published last month, suggest that climate change and more frequent fires are threatening the survival of this iconic conifer. 21 Dec 2016
The battle to recovery It was while compiling research on sexual violence for her doctoral dissertation that Associate Professor Sinegugu Duma realised that she needed to write a book. 30 Nov 2016
Samuel Ginsberg: The power of collaboration UCT electrical engineer and senior lecturer Samuel Ginsberg has had a hand in inventing such diverse devices as a heat detector for informal settlements. 28 Oct 2016
Let researchers try new paths Dr Tolu Oni (School of Public Health and Family Medicine), together with 3 of her colleagues, has contributed to an article published in Nature journal, arguing that scientists should be allowed to shift their focus in pursuit of important research. 26 Oct 2016
Prestigious fellowship for Gumedze Dr Freedom Gumedze of the Department of Statistical Sciences has been awarded a Newton Advanced Fellowship from the Royal Society, in partnership with the Academy of Medical Sciences, for the period 2016–2019. 25 Oct 2016
Mont Fleur writing retreat From 17–19 August 2016 members of the Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) cohort gathered again at the beautiful site of Mont Fleur situated in the Blaauwklippen Valley outside Stellenbosch. 24 Aug 2016
Balancing culture and career Dr Ameeta Jaga always regarded herself as a liberated Indian woman. But once she delved into the literature of culture and the work–family interface, she became aware of the many ways in which that was less true. 18 Aug 2016
Duma is a nursing Hall-of-Famer Associate Professor Sinegugu Duma of the Division of Nursing and Midwifery at UCT, and founding director of the university's Sexual Assault Response Team, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Research Excellence in Nursing by the Forum of University Nursing Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) on 22 July 2016. 04 Aug 2016
Professors are made by hard work Robert Morrell, Director of the Next Generation Professoriate, writes in the Mail & Guardian that professors are made rather than born. 14 Jul 2016
Next Generation Professoriate member receives PhD Dr Lee-Ann Tong, senior lecturer in commercial law at UCT and a member of the Next Generation Professoriate, graduated with a doctoral degree in June 2016. 30 Jun 2016
Authentic leadership for changing times For members of the Next Generation Professoriate, who will be future leaders at UCT, Vanessa Lowndes recently facilitated three conversations that focused on leading teams and building organisational culture in changing times. 24 Jun 2016
Next Generation Professoriate – autumn update This update on the progress and activities of the first cohort of the Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) features two major events – Manya Mooya's book launch and the Zevenwacht writing retreat. 24 May 2016
Cheetah's tail a blueprint for manoeuvrability in robots Robotics designer Dr Amir Patel is one of six UCT scholars who received a Claude Leon Merit Award for 2016. 12 May 2016
Tolullah Oni: promoting science and research to develop Africa Tolullah (Tolu) Oni's passion for public health stem from a desire to study medicine from an early age. 11 May 2016
Margaret Orr and the Academic Game How does one get ahead in a university where the rules of the game are often not clear? Margaret Orr gave a seminar to the Next Generation Professoriate on 10 March 2016. 18 Mar 2016
Lively debate on transformation in law The legal fraternity and interested public enjoyed a lively debate about the intersections between race, law and transformation on 23 January in the Golden Arrow studio at the Baxter Theatre Centre. Near the end, a passionate exchange between a judge, his fellow panellists and members of the audience threw into sharp relief some of the issues that had been discussed up to that point. 04 Mar 2016
Building a pipeline for UCT's professors of the future The Next Generation Professoriate is a UCT programme aimed at advancing the development of black and female academics. 05 Feb 2016
The cohort at Mont Fleur For two days in early December, members of the Next Generation Professoriate were on a writing retreat at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch. This is a glorious spot at the foot of the Helderberg mountains. 17 Dec 2015
A next generation lunch In November 2015, the Next Generation Professoriate cohort had its first lunch at the UCT Club. 17 Nov 2015
Meet the cohort members With the Next Generation Professoriate initiative UCT hopes to advance the development of black academics by furnishing cohort members with greater clarity in their career paths and providing targeted support to them. The names of the 34 cohort members were recently made known. Learn more about them through their bios. 05 Oct 2015
'Next generation' professors unveiled The Next Generation Professoriate initiative will ensure that the pipeline to transform the professoriate is expanded and accelerated. 01 Oct 2015
Next Generation Professoriate initiative at UCT UCT has launched the Next Generation Professoriate initiative as part of its efforts to address the paucity of senior black academics. 30 Sep 2015
Recruit, develop, retain An institutional culture based on trust, respect and appreciation is what DVC Professor Francis Petersen hopes will come from a new programme aimed at academic staff. 28 Sep 2015