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Russel Botman Tribute

UWC mourns the passing of Prof Russel Botman

The UWC community and South Africa at large are reeling in shock with the passing of one of the University’s most prominent alumni, Professor Russel Botman, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University.

One of the pioneers of transformation in higher education in South Africa, an internationally-renowned theologian and a respected community leader, Prof Botman passed away peacefully in his sleep at his Stellenbosch home on Friday night, at the age of 60.

UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian O’Connell, expressed his condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Prof Botman on behalf of UWC students, staff, and alumni.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Russel. Our prayers and thoughts are with Russel’s wife Beryl, his children (Hayman, Lazelle, Ilze, Roxanne) and the Stellenbosch University community. Russel was a gem, and one of UWC’s greatest alumni. Our nation has lost an ethical leader. We will miss him.”  

Prof Botman served in many organisations in different capacities, and made immeasurable contributions to higher education, religion and the greater South African community.

He was the first black person to be appointed as the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, and was a driving force behind the university’s HOPE Project, a vehicle for Stellenbosch University’s transformation and positioning in the 21st Century.

He advised the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva on several topics and served as President of the South African Council of Churches.

He was also the chairperson of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014, the non-profit company established to implement World Design Capital 2014, an annual honour awarded to cities that recognise design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development.

“South Africa has lost one of the leading lights of our higher education transformation. On behalf of government and all our people, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family and the whole of the academic community. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Jacob Zuma in a press statement this past weekend.

Born in Bloemfontein, Prof Botman completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Science, a Masters of Theology (cum laude) and his Doctoral degree at UWC. He worked at UWC from 1994 until 2000 and served the University in various positions, which included Dean of the then Faculty of Religion and Theology.He is also recognised as an Extraordinary Professor in the field of Theology.

For more condolences and statements on the passing of Prof Botman, please visit Stellenbosch University’s tributes page.