Johannesburg – The University of Pretoria’s vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Tawana Kupe, has resigned six months before his term was due to end, sparking concern that there is a “direct purge” of black vice-chancellors at higher education institutions in South Africa.
Kupe’s resignation from UP, one of the country’s leading higher education institutions, follows the widely publicised conflicts and eventual resignation of UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and ongoing issues at Unisa with its principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula.
News of Kupe’s resignation was shared in a message from the chairperson of the university’s council, Kuseni Dlamini, to members of the university on Tuesday.
In another twist to the higher education leadership crisis, Kupe is out at UP🙈🙈🙈 pic.twitter.com/spxvNho4kE— Khaya Sithole (@CoruscaKhaya) June 13, 2023
Dlamini said the university had accepted Kupe’s decision to resign from his position with effect from July 31. His term was due to conclude in January 2024.
“While the process to find his successor will begin immediately, appropriate interim arrangements that will help facilitate the smooth functioning of the institution will be put in place. I am confident that these interim arrangements, coupled with the expertise and dedication of the UP staff, will enable us to continue operating at the highest level,” said Dlamini.
He also expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the council, to Kupe for his contributions to UP during his tenure.
Last year, Kupe bagged his second international honorary doctorate in honour of universities across Africa and for the people of the continent.
This followed the honorary doctorate he was awarded by Michigan State University in December 2019.
Kupe has been hailed as a visionary leader, and was conferred his PhD by the international university for his work in “building academic partnerships across the African continent and the globe, and for his leadership in the transformation of higher education at a global level”.
Kupe has been the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria since January 2019.
Before joining UP, he held the positions of vice-principal responsible for running the university, deputy vice-chancellor Advancement, Human Resources and Transformation, deputy vice-chancellor of Finance and Operations, and executive dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Wits University.
He holds BA Honours and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo in Norway.