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UWC Mourns the Death of Renowned Psychology Scholar, Prof Joan Meyer

It is with great sadness that I inform you about the passing of Professor Joan Meyer, a renowned academic who became one of the first black women to complete her PhD in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.

(Published - 15 September 2020)

Dear Campus Community

It is with great sadness that I inform you about the passing of Professor Joan Meyer, a renowned academic who became one of the first black women to complete her PhD in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. Prof Meyer was also one of the founding members of the Psychology Clinic on the Phelophepa Health train that focused on giving care in rural areas.

Prof Meyer joined UWC in 1972 after graduating with her Honours at the University. Her academic acumen and abilities were recognised and she quickly established herself as an excellent teacher and a critical thinker. She was awarded a scholarship to pursue a structured clinical doctorate in the Netherlands.

In 1975, Prof Meyer was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. After completing her clinical internship at Valkenberg Hospital in the early 1980s, she was registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a Clinical Psychologist and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in the department.

Prof Meyer was later promoted to Professor in the department and thus became the first female professor in the Department of Psychology and the first black female professor at UWC.

Under her leadership, the department was known for a high quality programme in Psychology and she was one of the core members who contributed to the introduction of the clinical master’s programme, M.Psych. Prof Meyer became renowned for teaching psychotherapeutic principles, family therapy, systems thinking and measurement and she lectured both undergraduates and postgraduate students.

Prof Meyer was instrumental in developing School Readiness Assessment tools for use on the Phelophepa Health train in rural areas. She also played an important role in the supervision and presentation of psycho-social interventions programmes in rural areas, as part of the Psychology Resource Centre, as well as the Phelophepa Health train’s programmes.

One of her former students, Professor Mario R. Smith, is now the Acting Director of the Division of Postgraduate Studies at UWC. He recalls that Prof Meyer was one of the most influential lecturers of her time.

“She challenged me to excel and pursue excellence. She was one of the key people who influenced my own pursuit of psychology as a discipline. She was remembered by most as very critical and challenging, but the consensus was that she held everyone, including herself, to very high standards,” he said.

Prof Meyer formally retired from UWC in 2005.

I was both her student and her colleague. I remember how everyone, including myself, was always in awe of her.

On behalf of the UWC community, I convey my heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Prof Meyer, some of whom are our colleagues at the University. The higher education sector has indeed lost a legend.

Professor Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor

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