I want to make UCT phenomenal‚ says new vice-chancellor

17 March 2018 - 15:30 By Dave Chambers
Mamokgethi Phakeng
Mamokgethi Phakeng
Image: UCT

The new vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town is Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

The appointment of Phakeng‚ a professor of mathematics education and a deputy vice-chancellor at UCT for two years‚ was announced on Saturday by Sipho Pityana‚ chairman of the UCT council.

Phakeng will take over from Max Price‚ vice-chancellor for the last decade‚ on July 1.

“I am honoured to have been afforded an opportunity to lead one of the best institutions on the continent‚” said Phakeng.

“I am particularly humbled by the overwhelming support that I have received within the university community. I know that the task that lies ahead is a mammoth one and I do not underestimate its complexities.

“In every challenge we face there are also opportunities. I also know that alongside all the members of the campus community‚ we will meet the challenges and reach even higher milestones as an institution.”

Under her watch‚ she wanted UCT to become “a phenomenal international experience for our students ... embedded in academic excellence and ... uniquely African”.

She added: “We will rethink curricula and make sure we broaden our pursuit of excellence in research‚ teaching and learning and in all our activities. There is a lot to do and I look forward to beginning this task.”

Phakeng’s only rival on the shortlist was Vivienne Lawack‚ a professor of law and a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of the Western Cape.

Pityana said Phakeng enjoyed “a high level of support ... from different stakeholders during the selection process. This overwhelming confidence in her leadership is an endowment from which she will draw as she takes up this complex and yet exciting role.”

He added: “Both in the short time that she has been with UCT and during the recruitment process she has demonstrated the required senior executive leadership experience in higher education and an understanding of the operations and affairs of a university environment.

“She has both an ability to exercise academic leadership as well as a successful track record of strategic management.

“What also stood out about Professor Phakeng was her sound knowledge and understanding of the key challenges and opportunities arising from the changing higher education environment in South Africa and globally. She has a good appreciation of the possibilities that this situation presents for us.”

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