South African Commerce Deans’ Association

The South African Commerce Deans’ Association (SACDA)  recently convened at Rhodes University for the second of its two annual meetings.  Instead of the normal one Dean and one Deputy-Dean of Commerce, campus was awash with 23 Deans and Deputy-Deans of Commerce from 17 institutions across the country for two days on 14 and 15 November 2013.

SACDA is a voluntary association of Deans of Commerce through which the needs,

views and concerns of its members can be expressed as necessary or desirable from time to time.  It considers any and all matters relating to the management and execution of teaching, learning, research and community engagement in Commerce.  More so, it serves to establish and maintain good channels of communication and open and constructive relations between its members.

“I was delighted to host the Deans and be able to showcase not only the smallest University in the country, but one with an impeccable track record in teaching and learning and research” said Prof Dave Sewry, Dean of Commerce.  Prof Sewry also noted the encouraging comments of the Deans on the openness and accessibility of campus and its overall beauty and ambience.

The meeting was opened by Prof Niekie Dorfling, Dean of Commerce, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and current Chair of SACDA who introduced Dr Saleem Badat who welcomed the Deans and presented his thoughts on higher education, funding, and the strategic direction of Rhodes University.  This was followed by Prof Chrissie Boughey who presented her thoughts on the new four-year flexible programme proposed by the Council on Higher Education. 

“The Deans thoroughly enjoyed the VC’s perspective, especially when juxtaposed with their own VC’s perspectives, and Prof Boughey’s thoughts” remarked Prof Sewry, “despite the limited number of students completing their degrees in three years, Deans are particularly concerned about how the four-year flexible programme will be implemented and how realistic expectations are of the possible success of the proposal”.

In amongst a host of other matters, the meeting considered the impact of the new university funding formula which has long been coming and is hoped to be made public by the end of the year and the development of a model (inclusive of  FTEs, SCUs, various ratios, programmes offered, research activities) by which the structure and operation of faculties of Commerce can be better understood nationally.

Of course, any gathering of Deans becomes an instant opportunity to network and build friendships.  “The collective wisdom of the Deans is immense; we share common problems, we all aspire to produce the best graduates, we have the best interests of our students at heart and, while we are in some sense in competition, we’re very much on the same team” said Prof Sewry.

The Deans’ next meeting will be hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in June, 2014 – and, according to Prof Sewry, at Rhodes University whenever SACDA wished.