Lifetime Achievement Award: Top Research Leader, Prof Ramesh Bharuthram
The University of the Western Cape of 2015 looks different in many respects to the UWC of the twentieth century - from humble origins, the University has become a top-tier research and teaching and learning institution. Much of that change can be attributed to the efforts of Professor Ramashwar Bharuthram - one of the reasons he was chosen as the first recipient of the lifetime achievement award by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) / SARIMA Award for Exceptional Leadership in Research Management.
Ms Naledi Pandor, SA Minister of Science and Technology, presented this lifetime achievement award at the inaugural awards ceremony and gala dinner of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) in Johannesburg on 13 May 2015.
Ramesh Bharuthram obtained his PhD in theoretical Plasma Physics from the University of Natal, and has served tertiary education in South Africa for 45 years in several capacities – apart from UWC, at the University of Durban-Westville, the M L Sultan Technikon, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Professor Bharuthram retired as UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic at the end of 2014, following seven years at UWC. Under his guidance, the University has experienced significant growth, nationally and internationally, and has become one of South Africa’s foremost research intensive universities while making significant advancements in teaching and learning. And all of it has been achieved while retaining one of the lowest fee structures in higher education in the country.
Apart from his contributions to UWC, Bharuthram was appointed by the Minister of Science and Technology as the Head of the Astronomy Desk in 2012. He successfully led the process that developed South Africa’s long-term strategy for Astronomy.
At the same time, Bharuthram managed to keep an active personal research programme as one of the country’s leading theoreticians in space physics – he still holds an NRF B-rating, has published more than 140 research articles in journals of international standing and has been a visiting professor at the Central University, Hyderabad, India and the University of California, San Diego, USA.
Here is just a small sample of UWC’s achievements during Prof Bharuthram’s tenure as DVC: Academic:
?The University is now the fifth-ranked South African institution for the number of academics with PhDs.
?UWC now features among the top seven SA universities when ranked for research output per scholar.
?UWC has been awarded ten research chairs under the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).
?In 2014 alone, over 100 PhDs were awarded at the University’s graduation ceremonies.
?UWC consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in Africa, and the top 100 universities in the BRICS consortium.
Bharuthram also supervised (and graduated) many postgraduate students. “I have an enormous passion for policy development,” he says, “for mentoring and advising young academics and other colleagues - particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds - and opening doors for them.”
Having stepped down from the DVC: Academic position doesn’t mean Bharuthram has stopped contributing to UWC’s development – he currently serves as Executive: Special Projects at the University, focusing on strengthening key international alliances as they relate to the academic enterprise, and also helping to ensure a smooth transition for the new executive team.
Prof Bharuthram plans to continue to use his knowledge and expertise by mentoring and harnessing academic talent for the development of our country.
“My passion for development goes beyond UWC,” he says. “When I look at UWC graduates, I don’t only see them as students, but as future leaders and innovators of our country.”
The University would like to join our colleagues in the scientific community in thanking Prof Bharuthram for his exceptional commitment and dedication to the higher education sector, and his efforts on behalf of the University.