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 Prof.  Russel Botman

Position:  Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University
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Qualifications: University of the Western Cape (UWC) – he obtained the degrees BA (1978), BTh (1979), BTh Licentiate (1981), MTh cum laude (1984) and DTh (1994)
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Biography

 The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) from 2007 to 2014, the late Professor Russel Botman (1953-2014) obtained all his qualifications at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) he obtained the degrees BA (1978), BTh (1979), BTh Licentiate (1981), MTh cum laude (1984) and DTh (1994).
He often said his time at UWC had a formative influence on his life, and particularly enjoyed relating to others his experiences as Public Relations Officer of UWC’s student representative council in 1976. It was the year of the Soweto uprising and he and his fellow students protested against apartheid’s laws. His activism continued, and in 1985 he was detained with many others at Victor Verster Prison during the State of Emergency.
Later in 1986, he and others including Rev Allan Boesak formulated the Confession of Belhar, a statement of faith adopted by the then Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) that rejected apartheid. For Prof Botman, this also had its origins at UWC.
Ordained as a minister of religion in 1982, he served the Wynberg congregation of the DRMC until 1993. He played a key role in founding the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA), and remained a strong proponent of church unity within the Dutch Reformed Church family to the end. He was President of the South African Council of Churches from 2003 to 2007.
He joined UWC in 1994 as a senior lecturer in practical theology, and became associate professor and Dean of the Faculty of Religion and Theology in 1999. From 2000 to 2002 he served as extraordinary professor in social ethics at UWC, and in 2002 he was appointed extraordinary professor in Religion and Theology.
In 2000, he was appointed a professor in missiology, ecumenism and public theology at SU, and was pivotal in the establishment of URCSA’s theological training at SU. In 2002 he became Vice-Rector: Teaching at SU, and in 2004 he received special recognition from the Minister of Education for the successful incorporation of SU’s Dentistry Faculty into UWC.
The first black Vice-Chancellor in Stellenbosch University’s history, Prof Botman was known for his role in promoting transformation, openness and unity, and being the driving force behind SU’s HOPE Project. The project was the vehicle for the university’s transformation.
In April 2013 he received the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Theology and Public Life. In March 2014 he received an honorary doctorate from Hope College in Michigan for leadership in higher education and the Reformed Church. He was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
At the time of his death he was Senior Vice-President of the Association of African Universities, Chairperson of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014, an executive committee member of Higher Education South Africa and a director of Media24 Limited.
Prof Botman was married to Beryl Botman and is survived by four children, Hayman, Lizelle, Ilse and Roxanne and three grandchildren.

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