Rhodes University honours late alumnus, philanthropist, Allan Gray

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Dr Allan Gray's visit to Rhodes University in 2004
Dr Allan Gray's visit to Rhodes University in 2004

The Rhodes University community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Allan William Buchanan Gray. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Gill, daughter Jennifer, and his two sons, William and Trevor.

They, together with all the grandchildren that Dr Gray leaves behind are in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time for all of us.

Rhodes University is honoured to have been a significant part of Dr Gray’s magnificent and hugely productive life. He remains our proud alumnus. He was a philanthropist, a community builder, a supporter for social justice and benefactor for many good causes.

We are grateful for the extraordinary contributions that Dr Gray has made to Rhodes University over the years. We find inspiration from the generous life of this man whose selfless leadership is consonant with our own institutional mission, purposes and values.

Dr Gray completed his BCom Accounting degree at Rhodes University in 1957. The following year, he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy (equivalent of the CTA) and he was conferred an LLD (Doctor of Laws, honoris causa) from Rhodes University in 1995.

Over many years, through various philanthropic pursuits, Dr Gray donated to numerous Rhodes University initiatives including the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), the Trojan Academic Initiative (TAI), the Centre for Social Development (CSD), sports foundations, undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries, short courses, scholarships and he funded the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (AGCLE), which bears his name.

He always had a strong interest in shaping future leaders of our country into just and ethical human beings, and he did much of this through supporting higher education initiatives. At Rhodes University, we honour and celebrate this distinguished individual whose profound and exceptional contributions to our nation and humankind are worthy of recognition. His personal journey and selfless service and sacrifices serve as an inspiration and an example worthy of emulation by all of us.

In 1993, Dr Gray donated funds to build of one of Rhodes University’s residences, Allan Gray House, which forms part of our Drostdy Hall, and accommodates 85 female students.

House Warden, Tlamelo Mothudi and the students at Allan Gray House consider the residence their “home”.

The Faculty of Commerce, under the deanship of Professor Dave Sewry, has been the recipient of generous support and encouragement from Dr Allan Gray for many years.

Since 1998, a scholarship for postgraduate studies was established, which has enabled many students to register for Honours, Masters and Doctoral degrees.

To date, some 166 postgraduate students have benefitted from the generosity of Dr Allan Gray through this scholarship alone. His generous support serves as the bedrock for the success of many of our students.

In 2012, the Allan Gray Investment Management (AGIM) involved themselves in the recognition of top academic performers at the Faculty of Commerce through the annual Allan Gray Academic Achievement Awards.

AGIM not only funds the event, but also assesses and determines the final winners. This joint initiative has been sustained over the years and has served to bond our Commerce Faculty and Allan Gray in a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Also In 2012, funds were set aside to establish the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (ACGLE), headed by Professor Pedro Tabensky. AGCLE theorises, teaches and provides advice on leadership ethics to promote humane, responsible and effective leadership.

Recently, the AGCLE was involved in creating a learning module for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under its Education for Justice (E4J) initiative. This would not have been possible without the contributions of Dr Gray.

The relationship between the AGCLE and the other Allan Gray philanthropic ventures, particularly the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, the Allan and Gill Gray Philanthropies and the Allan Gray Centre for Value Based Leadership (at UCT) remains healthy. As the University, we look forward to continuing to work with them to honour the legacy of the exceptional human being that Dr Gray was.

The Allan Gray Orbis Endowment Foundation (AGOFE) is also supporting the development of an Advanced Certificate in Foundation Phase Literacy Teaching at Rhodes University. This year, AGOFE funded 46 Foundation Phase teachers and literacy coaches to do the courses. It also provides funding for a part-time Course Coordinator post in the CSD at the University.

As evidenced by the immense effect his passing has had on many of us at Rhodes University, Dr Allan Gray was a force for good we are all better for having known.

It is our hope that the loss of this great man gives us time to reflect on the road each of us has travelled and to look forward to bequeathing future generations a better society and a better world than the one we inherited from the generation before ours, just as Dr Gray has done. 

We acknowledge with great gratitude and heartfelt appreciation the immeasurable sacrifices Dr Gray and his family have made in service to our University, our society, humanity and our shared destiny.

May his great soul rest in eternal peace.


Click here to view Dr Gray’s tribute video.