(Published - 23 April 2020)
Dear Campus Community
The global outbreak of the Corona virus pandemic has caused major disruptions across the world, including in our country where no organisation has escaped the impact of the measures that have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus. Even though I have been on sabbatical leave, the UWC community has constantly been in my thoughts and I have followed closely what was happening on campus and was in regular contact with the executive and other colleagues.
I wish to commend the senior management and all our staff as well as our students and the student leadership for the resilience shown during this extraordinary time in history.
I am also pleased that so many of our researchers have been able to contribute valuable expertise and insights into the immediate fight against COVID-19 as well as to an increased understanding of the longer-term impact that the pandemic is likely to have on our country.
When my sabbatical leave started earlier this year, I informed the campus that the responsibility to act as Rector and Vice-Chancellor in my absence would be shared amongst our three Deputy Vice Chancellors (DVCs) and communicated the dates during which the different DVCs would fulfil this role. I wanted each of them to have the opportunity to benefit from the experience gained in serving the University in this position. Given the current disruptions and the uncertainty of how exactly things will unfold going forward, I have consulted with various stakeholders as well with Profs Lawack, Frantz and Dube and collectively we agreed that in an attempt to ensure continuity, Prof Lawack will continue to serve as acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor until I return to campus in August. UWC follows a collective leadership model and I have no doubt that our executive and faculty leadership will guide our University through these uncertain times.
Thank you to colleagues who have been working very hard to ensure that we can take academic activities online this week. I know that it poses various challenges but I want to thank you for your unwavering commitment to continue to support our students.
I also want to extend my very best wishes to our students. For some of you this period will be more difficult than for others and it is my sincere hope that you will persevere, that you will remain focused and assist each other where possible so that we can all return to campus later this year.
I also want to ask that you please help to spread the message about the #NoStudentWillBeLeftBehind appeal, so that our students have the best possible chance to complete the 2020 academic year.
I urge you all to stay at home as far as possible and to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing.
Prof Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor