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.
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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.
ANNOUNCEMENT: UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA APPOINTS NEW VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL: The University of Pretoria is pleased to announce that the University Council has appointed Professor Tawana Kupe Vice-Chancellor and Principal. Read more about Prof Kupe: https://t.co/Wv9LMoXnop pic.twitter.com/vOfZU79qoY
— Univ. of Pretoria (@UPTuks) November 21, 2018
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.
Government congratulates Professor Tawana Kupe on his appointment as the first black Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria (UP) in over 100 years and wishes him success in his new role. pic.twitter.com/a5ClVJbrZK
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) November 23, 2018
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.
Here are other reactions:
The appointment of Professor Tawana Kupe as Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, one of the leading universities in South Africa, on the continent & internationally, does Zimbabwean academia proud!https://t.co/7Wa8s9J9RO pic.twitter.com/yTGpgBiltV
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) November 22, 2018
You have made us raise our shoulders Professor Tawana Kupe. You are the typical ambassador that we want, different from other fugitive professors who see themselves as super prof. They instead work to demonise their country. @ProfJNMoyo @Wamagaisa @steve_hanke pic.twitter.com/gBWvwaAj2U
— tafara shumba (@Tafiez) November 23, 2018
Congratulations Professor Tawana Kupe. Well done on your great achievement marking another pinnacle on an already stellar academic career. ??✨✨ https://t.co/1GOwZluesF
— Peter Ndoro (@peterndoro) November 22, 2018
Congratulations Professor Tawana Kupe who has been appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria. Prof Kupe has BA Honours & Masters in English from the University of Zimbabwe; and DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo. He joins UP from Wits pic.twitter.com/PAvrF8sKSZ
— Sure Kamhunga (@sure_kamhunga) November 22, 2018