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Alan Polack

Date Released: Wed, 3 May 2017 04:27 +0200

In the letter of 2 June 2015, I used the following words and they are quoted in Gordon’s ’statement' which you have included in your 'Transformation News and Views, Alumni Relations' section of the relevant web page.'In the world of learning, a university builds a reputation and prestige with time as a consequence of the performances and works of its staff, researchers and graduates.’

Those words are followed by the words which summarise my position on this matter.  By changing Rhodes' name the body responsible for doing so will subject the next generation of graduates to a substantially decreased legacy as they seek to enter the world of work.  The relevant words are:

 For Rhodes to be moving towards voluntarily throwing away that prestige, which has been built over more than 100 years, for no obvious reason (or for a reason which has not been disclosed to its own graduates) will leave most graduates very disappointed, annoyed and angry.   This change of name would deny the existing prestige and advantage referred to above to all future graduates, who will effectively be graduating from an unknown institution.  Prospective employers may well ask, 'What university did you say and where is that located? 

 My opinion and sentiments on this matter are unchanged.  I am totally opposed to any change of the name of Rhodes University. The overall stupidity of changing the name of Rhodes University is vindicated by the decision of Oriel College not to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at that location, despite the campaign which was mounted in support of removal.

2 June 2015

Dear Terryl

Thank you for sending the documentation relating to the possibility of a change of the name of Rhodes University.

I am surprised that the author of the document has not told us how this situation arose - it makes it very difficult to fully respond without that information.

How did this idea ever arise and who is responsible for having allowed it to get to this point? 

In the world of learning, a university builds a reputation and prestige with time as a consequence of the performances and works of its staff, researchers and graduates.  For Rhodes to be moving towards voluntarily throwing away that prestige, which has been built over more than 100 years, for no obvious reason (or for a reason which has not been disclosed to its own graduates) will leave most graduates very disappointed, annoyed and angry.   This change of name would deny the existing prestige and advantage referred to above to all future graduates, who will effectively be graduating from an unknown institution.  Prospective employers may well ask, 'What university did you say and where is that located? 

 

I have been considering changing my will for some time now and the possibility of leaving a meaningful benefaction to Rhodes has been on my mind.  Given that the Council at Rhodes might change the name of the university, I will now terminate that idea.

 

I wish to place on the record my strong disapproval of the proposed change and in doing so would like to ask you a few questions.

 

Were this proposed action to proceed I assume that the university would withdraw from all participation in the Rhodes Scholarship scheme and future students/graduates would no longer be eligible for a Rhodes Scholarship while students at all other South African universities would continue to have access to that very prestigious award.  Is that assumption correct?

 

Has anybody stopped to think that the connection of the university with Cecil Rhodes never seemed to cause any problem for Nelson Mandela in his association with the university?

 

Does it now follow that the Mandela Rhodes Foundation will be wound up?

 

Again, I wish to place on record my strongest possible opposition to the change of the name of Rhodes University, and particularly so in the absence of your providing any reason for this possible change.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Alan Polack, B.Sc, B.Sc (Pharm) (Rhodes), M.Pharm (Syd.), Ph.D (Adel.)

 

Source:Alumni Relations