In trying times, it’s important for institutions to have strong leadership - therefore the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Burtram Fielding as the new Dean of Natural Sciences and Professor Rajendran Govender as the new Dean of Education, and the reappointment of Professor Anthea Rhoda as the Dean of Community and Health Sciences.
“UWC is home to a community of thousands - students, academics, and professional and support staff members - who are among the most talented and dedicated in their field,” said Prof Tyrone Pretorius, UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor. “And it is this dedication that has helped us weather a global pandemic that saw unprecedented social, economic and organisational disruption. That is in no small part due to the leadership displayed by these three exceptional individuals.”
His decades of work on coronaviruses have cemented his status as one of the foremost experts on SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa, and the world, and he has mentored several students whose work has advanced our understanding of the current pandemic.
“The fundamental purpose of science is to ask questions,” he said. “We want to understand ourselves, and the world, and the universe. But more than that, we want to contribute. We have a responsibility to share what we’ve learned, and to learn from others, and to put what we learn towards the service of others. Simply put, science and research are done for the benefit of the public, for society. That’s been at the heart of my experience of science at UWC - and that’s what I want to continue to promote and grow at the university.””
As Acting Dean, Prof Govender has helped the Faculty navigate massive disruptions to education, and tested and established new pedagogical methods.
“It is my honour and privilege to accept this position,” he said. “I know it is a significant commitment, but with the support of my staff, I am prepared to build upon the successes of the past and take the Faculty of Education to greater heights. Ensuring quality teacher education is one of the most important things we can do for future generations - and working together, we can provide opportunities for an excellent learning and teaching experience that is contextually responsive to the challenges of the 21st century and of a society in transition, and that enhances our students’ capacities for the world of work in the new normal brought about by COVID-19.”
As dean, she has overseen the expansion of the CHS Faculty into Bellville CBD, the increasing integration of UWC staff and students into communities, and the preparation of graduates ready to tackle a global pandemic.
“Developing capacity and intellectual agility has been key to managing all the changes that were brought on by the pandemic and the lockdown. As we were ‘all in it together’, it was amazing to witness the amount of collaboration and sharing that happened both internally, as well as externally,” she said. “As Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences of UWC, I know first-hand how important community is to us - our mission being to transform and sustain the health and wellbeing of communities. It’s so important, in fact, that unlike most other health sciences faculties, we put community right up there in our name. And that sense of community has become more important than ever.”
These are the leaders who will help UWC find a way to continue to grow, from hope to action - and to make a difference in the world.
“I have no doubt that our new deans will find a way to make their mark,” said Prof Pretorius. “But they won’t do it alone. We’re all in this together, and together, we will get through these tough times, build on our past successes and continue to be a force for positive change. Please join me in congratulating our academics on their appointment.”