File image: Professor Ingrid Woolard and newly appointed Dean of Economic and Management Science at Stellenbosch University (SU). (Supplied).

CAPE TOWN - Internationally recognised Stellenbosch University has announced the appointment of Professor Ingrid Woolard as Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. 

Woolard began her career in 1994, upon completing her undergraduate studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of South Africa (Unisa) respectively. As an economist by profession, Woolard then went on to complete her PhD at the University of Cape Town in 2002. 

She will be the first woman to lead the faculty as Dean, succeeding Professor Stan du Plessis, who was appointed Chief Operating Officer (designate) of SU earlier this year.

"I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading SU’s largest faculty. The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences is renowned for its student-centric approach and excellent results and I’m excited to be joining such a committed team". 

She added that her new role will be exciting “especially since the faculty is already in such good shape. The role is fairly easy because the staff is committed, the university is in good financial shape and is ready to embrace new change”, said Woolard. 

Since Woolard currently holds the title of Dean at the University of Cape Town in the Commerce Faculty, she says that there is great commonality in the roles. However, she acknowledges that each institution has bureaucratic differences. For instance, the profile of students at UCT is 6 500 whereas at SU, it is approximately 8 000. 

She also has extensive experience as not only an academic but also within the public space. Woolard previously served as Chair of Employment Conditions Commission and advised the Minister of Labour on minimum wages. She now serves on board of the Davis Tax Commission. 

The SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, welcomed Woolard’s appointment: "We are delighted that she will be joining Stellenbosch University as Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences, our largest faculty. She is an internationally recognised and respected academic and will bring further management experience to the University. She will add significantly to our future focus as we embark on our second century as a leading public university in South Africa", he said.

At SU, Woolard's essential focus will be to broaden student access and enhance research. She adds that she will also accelerate transformation of the staff body to ensure relevance of the curriculum. 

"We need to push harder on improving access and the provision of enhanced financial and learning support for students from poor and marginalised communities. And once a student is admitted, we have a responsibility to provide an enabling environment for student success. The university cannot be a revolving door", says Woolard.

Woolard’s own areas of research interests include the measurement of poverty and inequality, unemployment, social protection and tax policy.

She feels strongly about the transformation of the staff body and implemented a number of successful strategies at UCT. These include organising regular meetings with black academic staff as a means of explicitly privileging the voices of this group and creating the position Deputy Dean: Transformation and announcing that all academic posts would be initially advertised using a targeted equity statement.

"We need to increase the number of black, particularly Black African South African, staff. We need to accelerate the transformation process through aggressive recruitment strategies and addressing the issues of an unwelcoming institutional culture", she explained.

Woolard will officially take on her new role as Dean on May 1, 2018. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE