THE University of South Africa has appointed its new, first-ever female principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula.
Lenkabula assumes her duties in January next year.
The term of office of the incumbent, Professor Mandla Makhanya, comes to an end in December this year.
“The Council of the University of South Africa (UNISA) is proud to announce that, in a move unprecedented since the establishment of the university 148 years ago, it will have its first female Principal and Vice Chancellor with effect from 01 January 2021,” Unisa announced in a statement on Friday.
LenkaBula is currently the Vice Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs and Community Engagement at the University of the Free State.
“Council is of the firm belief that this appointment bodes well for the future of our university, as we intensify our endeavour to move towards a fully-fledged Open Distance and eLearning dispensation and to solidify our stature as a truly African university in the service of humanity,” said chairperson of the UNISA Council, Sakhi Simelane.
Prior to occupying the Vice Rector position at the University of Free State, Lenkabula was the Dean of Students at WITS University, where she was a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Office (VCO) and the Senior Executive Team.
She holds a Doctorate (2006-20077) in Ethics (Theology and Philosophy) with specialisation in Ethics of the Economy, Ecology and Politics from the University of South Africa.
Her doctoral thesis deployed multi-disciplinary approaches, drawing from ethics, legal and economic questions. The title of her thesis was: Bioprospecting and Intellectual Property rights on African Plant Commons and Knowledge: A New form of Colonization viewed from an Ethical Perspective.
She gained a master’s degree (MTS) with specialisation in Social Ethics from St Andrew’s College at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, in 1995.
The masters’ dissertation undertook to study the ethical implications of multilateral finance and financing institutions on economies and economic policies in Africa.
Her thesis was titled, I am because we are: An African Womanist Reflection on the Structural Adjustment programs of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Her junior degree was a Bachelor of Education with three majors in English, Theology, and Education, conferred by the National University of Lesotho.
“In Professor LenkaBula, we have appointed the right caliber of leader; who is student-centred and shares our institutional vision on decoloniality and transformation, knowledge-production, innovation and advancing the socio-economic development of South Africa, Africa and the world, in particular for the benefit of Africa,” said Simelane.
Simelane added that the UNISA Council commits itself to providing her with the necessary support to ensure that she succeeds in taking the university’s vision of transformation and excellent service delivery to the next level.
The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has welcomed the appointment of Lenkabula.
“We celebrate this milestone as it moves us closer towards addressing gender transformation in the higher education and training sector. Indeed, it took the university 148 years to appoint a female as the VC. This shows that the pace of transformation in the sector, especially at senior management level, is very slow,” said chairperson Philly Mapulane.
“Gender transformation is critical to the development of the country, the African continent and the global community in creating a sustainable world. We congratulate the Unisa Council for taking such a bold step in addressing the under-representation of women in the higher echelons of the university.”
“We urge the university council to further expedite transformation in other sectors of the university. Unisa plays a very important role in expanding access to education and training through distance learning to the majority of people on the African continent. Recently, the university has been ranked in international rankings.”
Mapulane added: “The committee looks forward to an engagement with Professor LenkaBula and her management team at its earliest convenience during its oversight responsibility over the university to ensure that the management, through her leadership, discharges its mandate in terms of section 27 of the Higher Education Act, 101 of 1997 as amended. We wish her the best in this formidable task and we urge all university stakeholders to work together with her to collectively take this African university to even greater heights.”
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)