Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng is the newly appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
Outgoing Vice-Chancellor Professor Max Price and Phakeng addressed the media on Saturday after the university council made a unanimous decision.
Phakeng said she was “humbled” by the appointment, which takes effect on July 1, 2018.
“My goal is to transform the university while building on its excellence,” said Phakeng.
She said that she had always driven the transformation agenda in academic research.
She did not take her new position lightly.
“It’s amazing that my appointment is a possibility,” said Phakeng.
“There are so many poor, African people who have walked this journey so that this can be possible. I am honoured to continue this journey.”
Phakeng explained that she had not initially applied for the position.
“I wasn’t sure if UCT was ready for me. I’m a bit young, my earrings are too big – I’m too colourful,” she said.
“I wasn’t sure if this was the right time. The affirmation of senate was incredibly humbling. I didn’t think I’d get 75% of the vote.”
Price said he was excited by Phakeng’s appointment.
“This is exciting because this should be seen as a renewal. The university has come through a very stormy period over the last few years and the job of a vice-chancellor is difficult,” said Price.
“We are reaching a period of stability and Professor Phakeng’s appointment is appropriate in light of our renewal.”
Phakeng is a highly respected professor of mathematics and has published over 80 research papers.
She first joined UCT in July 2016 and took over from Professor Danie Visser as the deputy vice-chancellor of research and internationalisation in January 2017.
Before moving to UCT in 2006, she was vice-principal of research and innovation at the University of South Africa (Unisa).
Her long list of achievements includes becoming the first South African black researcher to be appointed to co-chair a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction in 2008. – News24