Appointing a new Vice-Chancellor for Rhodes

These are changing times for Rhodes University. Dr Saleem Badat has resigned after eight years to take up a post in New York with the Andrew W Mellon Foundation higher education programme. And the Chairperson of Rhodes Council, Judge Jos Jones, has also resigned after leading Council for 18 years.

Rhodes is fortunate to have a strong anchor in the person of its Registrar, Dr Steve Fourie, who has headed its academic administration and university committee structure for the past 20 years. He’s worked with three Vice-Chancellors at Rhodes – Dr Derek Henderson, Dr David Woods and Dr Saleem Badat – and he will be here for another good few years to work with the next.

As the Secretary of Council, Dr Fourie is the custodian of the process of selecting a new Vice-Chancellor, ensuring that the considerable administrative processes required are in place for the Chair of Council to lead the appointment.

“On Friday of last week, under my Chairmanship for that item, Senate approved the process for choosing the new VC, as well as the membership of the selection committee,” says Dr Fourie.

The 17-member selection committee includes the Chair of Council, members of Council and Senate, executive members of Rhodes’ administration, Deans, the SRC President and Rhodes’ two Labour Unions.

The committee will shortlist applications and make recommendations to Senate and Council for final ratification. The time period for this depends on how the committee decides to advertise - internally, nationally or internationally.

“We would expect to have a new Vice-Chancellor in office within a few months or by the beginning of next year at the latest. It all depends on the notice period the person has to give,” says Dr Fourie.

He says it will be important for the new Vice-Chancellor to build on Dr Badat’s ethos of a university that is a ‘Home for All’ – for all the academic staff, non academic staff and students at Rhodes. “He has led us to a place where Rhodes today is a far more inclusive, democratic institution.”

The greatest challenge facing the new Vice-Chancellor, says Dr Fourie, will be to boost the financial sustainability of Rhodes. The new Chair of Council, Vuyo Kahla, agrees: “We will need to work with the new Vice-Chancellor in closely examining the risks to the financial sustainability of the University, and to inclusively address what needs to be done to sustain the momentum of transformation and progress that has characterised the era of Judge Jones and the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Dr Badat.”

Kahla has a law degree from Rhodes and is the currently the Group Executive of Advisory & Assurance and Company Secretary of Sasol Ltd. His first career appointment at the age of 26 was as Assistant Legal Advisor to former President Nelson Mandela in 1996. Four years later, at age 30 he was the Chief Legal Advisor to former Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel.

Kahla has served both as a Rhodes Council member and as a member of the Rhodes Board of Governors for many years, and is the first black person in Rhodes University’s 109-year history to be elected to the position.

Source:  Communications

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