SEBENZILE NKAMBULE

 

Hundreds of academics and business leaders came together to celebrate the inauguration of Prof. Cheryl de la Rey as Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria. The ceremony was held on Friday 16 April, at the university’s Aula.

Prof. de la Rey was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the university on 27 April 2009 and she assumed her duties on 9 November of the same year. She was the Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and before that she served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Psychology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for six years. She also served as the Executive Director of Research Promotion on secondment to the National Research Foundation (NRF).

In her speech Prof. de la Rey talked about the importance of executing the “academic mission of teaching and research in ways that are responsive to changing global and local circumstances”. Prof. Mary Metcalfe, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, congratulated Prof. de la Rey and the university, saying that over 16 years ago it would have been unimaginable that Prof. De la Rey would be the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria. She commended the change and growth that has taken place, both in the institutution and in the country as a whole. Prof. de la Rey said in her speech that “resilience and adaptability are features that enable universities to survive through historical changes – through times of conflict and depression and times of peace and prosperity.” She highlighted the importance of the quality of the student experience, and that it will be a priority this year.

“It is my view that through teaching, we have the privilege and responsibility of transforming the lives of a generation of students and developing leaders for the future. A university education itself can be a transformative experience” said Prof. de la Rey.

Chairperson of the Temporary Student Committee (TSC), Marius Ellis, said that the student committee is pleased with the work that Prof. de la Rey has done thus far. They are looking forward to working with her further.

“There has been considerable positive change under her leadership,” said Ellis.

In conclusion to her speech, Prof. De la Rey had this to say: “The future is not predictable and there are no certainties. What I am certain of is that our commitment to quality, relevance, a culture of inquiry and sustainability as the principles that will drive our strategy, will give us a sound and strong foundation for building the second 100 years of the University of Pretoria, so that Tuks will be regarded as a national asset by all the people of South Africa, respected and renowned nationally and internationally for the quality of its graduates, scholarship and impact on society.”