Cape Town - In what many have hailed as an inspiring journey as a UCT student rising up the academic ranks to professor, now Elelwani Ramugondo has taken the leading role as a deputy vice-chancellor (DVC).
Professor Ramugondo, known as a transformation expert in South Africa and abroad, commenced her tenure on July 1 as UCT’s DVC for Transformation, Student Affairs and Social Responsiveness.
She was among two Leadership Lekgotla appointments that were approved by Council late last year.
Ramugondo emerged as the candidate for the position, and she received more than 73% of votes from the university’s Senate and 80% from its council.
Many people took to social media at the weekend to congratulate her.
“This is by far one of the most inspiring and important appointments I have seen in a while. Professor is a practical answer to a theoretic problem. Her research is grounded in important dialogues and uncomfortable but necessary solutions. I remember in my student days, she always wanted the debate to end in a solution and not a resolution. It echoes the drive that right now we need more changemakers than debaters. We need to stop talking and start doing,” one person said.
Ramugondo is also a founding member of the Black Academic Caucus (BAC). The BAC said it was proud of one of their own.
BAC secretary Dr Sabelo Hadebe said: “The BAC wishes the new DVC of Transformation and Student Affairs and Social responsiveness all the best in her new endeavour and look forward to further engagements on how we drive transformation agenda in UCT.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng had stated that the relevant Human Resources processes had to be followed prior to an official announcement being made.
“Professor Ramugondo has over 20 years of academic experience in a research-intensive university environment. She has an excellent track record of engaging with student affairs within governance structures in various leadership roles. She was appointed special adviser on transformation to the vice-chancellor in 2015, following calls for decolonisation by the student-led Rhodes Must Fall movement. She served in this role with remarkable integrity during a turbulent time and an historical moment of change in the higher education sector in South Africa,” she said.
The university had initially received criticism with allegations that it overlooked other black female academics for the post, following the controversial appointment of a retired white academic to temporarily replace the incumbent Professor Loretta Feris.
The appointment was described as “a slap in the face” for many suitable black female candidates.
Attempts to get hold of Ramugondo by deadline were unsuccessful.