Professor Tawana Kupe has been appointed vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria. Picture: Antoine de Ras
Recently appointed vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria (UP), Professor Tawana Kupe, officially stepped into his new role yesterday.

The announcement was made in November last year by the university’s highest decision-making body following the resignation of Professor. Cheryl de la Rey, who is set to head the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Kupe officially took the UP reins yesterday and said:“It is an honour and privilege to take over the reins at this proud institution at such a key moment in South African and global history.”

He also acknowledged the foundation of his predecessor in making UP one of the best institutions across the world.

“During De la Rey’s tenure, great strides were made in positioning UP as an institution that is a welcoming home to some of the greatest minds from Cape Town to Pretoria to Addis Ababa and beyond,” said Kupe.

“I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues as we continue to create a diverse and inclusive UP community, producing well-educated, well-trained graduates who make a contribution to economic and social development and help create the society envisaged in our Constitution,” he said.

Kupe added that he planned to spend time at each of the university’s faculties and campuses in the weeks and months ahead, and hoped to meet as many of his colleagues as possible and has urged staff to share their ideas on the shared goal of maintaining UP’s position as one of the top 2% of universities in the world, while continuing to expand the institute’s national and international reach.

“The changes taking place in the higher education sector present great opportunities for UP to continue to innovate as we find new ways to make education more accessible to young people thirsty for education.

“UP is the largest contact university in South Africa, one of the top producers of PhDs in the country, and is regarded as a national and international leader in research, with over 30 of our researchers counted among the top 1% of scientists globally,” said Kupe.

Kupe holds a BA Honours and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Zimbabwe as well as a PhD in media studies from the University of Oslo in Norway, and has served as executive dean of Wits University’s Faculty of Humanities for six years, after serving as the head of the then Wits School of Literature and Language Studies, and was also the founder of the Media Studies department.

He concluded by saying that he was confident that with the support of UP’s dedicated staff and impressive student body, the university would continue to grow that impact.