File picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA
Cape Town - UCT'S Staff for Social Justice in Education (SJE) collective have thrown their support behind calls for the re-examination of the process appointing Associate Professor Lis Lange as deputy vice-chancellor (DVC) for teaching and learning, over one of the institution's own highly-qualified and senior black academics, Professor Elelwani Ramugondo.

In an open letter to senior management and UCT Council members, the SJE said the selection process for the position undermines the processes linked to equity and transformation followed in other sections of the university.

The appointment of Lange, a white candidate from Argentina, has been met with outrage, with activists saying she did not meet the equity requirements, nor key criteria as advertised for the post. The decision has also been slammed by UCT’s Black Academic Caucus.

Ramugondo was Price’s special adviser on transformation.

UCT management maintains that in making its decision, the selection committee agreed that only one candidate - Lange - met sufficient criteria to be appointed.

The SJE charged that the selected candidate's academic credentials were weak.

“Rather than being acknowledged as weak, and outlining what other attributes would compensate for that weaknesses, the university community was asked to accept in good faith the assurances of the selection committee.

“The track record of the candidate was strong in terms of Higher Education Policy but weak in relation to pedagogy - the candidate had few publications, little teaching experience and hardly any postgraduate supervision experience.” This was labelled a "critical weakness".

The advert focused extensively on finding a candidate able to navigate the current juncture in higher education with a complex and ever-changing language of transformation - and a focus on decolonisation. Despite this, nothing in Lange’s CV or in the presentation to senate spoke to her track record in engaging in the current debates on decolonisation of higher education, the SJE said.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the institution understood that there was an intention to take this matter to court and would, as a result, not comment further. No decision had been made to review Lange’s appointment, he said.

Cape Times