BY Nduta Waweru, 3:00pm November 23, 2018,

South Africa’s University of Pretoria gets first black vice chancellor in over 100 years

History has been made in South Africa’s University of Pretoria which has unveiled its first ever black vice-chancellor and principal in over 100 years of its existence.

Renowned academic professor Tawana Kupe, a Zimbabwean, takes over from Cheryl de la Rey, who left to take up the role as vice-chancellor of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

According to the university, the appointment was made after a long assessment and Professor Kupe was selected from six shortlisted candidates.

The appointment was made in terms of the procedure set out in the University’s Regulation and Procedure for the Appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. The process included, among other steps, presentations by the shortlisted candidates to a joint meeting of the Council, Senate and Institutional Forum, voting by the Senate and Institutional Forum on the suitability for appointment of the shortlisted candidates, and interviews with the six shortlisted candidates by the Joint Committee of Council,”  reads the statement in part.

Professor Kupe, in his acceptance speech, highlighted the importance of universities in developing professionals.

“Universities have a responsibility to develop educated, well-informed and professionally skilled people who can address local and global challenges and contribute towards creating successful and thriving societies,” he said as he called for academic freedom and institutional autonomy and transparency in their practices.

Before his appointment, Professor Kupe was the vice-president at the University of Witwatersrand, where he oversaw the daily running of the university.  Before Wits, he was a dean at Rhodes University, which he joined after working at the Univesity of Zimbabwe.

Congratulatory messages have started streaming in, led by the government of South Africa, which wished the new vice-chancellor luck in his new role.


The South African Students Congress (Sasco) welcomed the move, saying that it as a significant step towards transformation in the institution.

“We believe that this appointment at UP … is a major milestone in the broader transformation project that students have envisioned‚” said Sasco provincial chair Luvuyo Barnes.

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Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: November 26, 2018


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