Two decades of eminent research has earned Professor Nicholas (Nick) Vink Stellenbosch University's coveted Chancellor's Award for community interaction and research.
He is the Chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics in the Faculty of AgriSciences at the university.
Vink is acknowledged for his continuously excellent achievements and research outputs over the years. He is the author of 167 peer-reviewed publications including 11 books as editor or co-editor and more than 50 publications in journals or books published internationally. He is also involved in both the African Association of Agricultural Economists and the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). Vink is currently the president of the IAAE.
Vink, who joined the department in 1996, has a longstanding association with the university. “At the beginning of 1979 I was still enrolled as a Masters student in Stellenbosch when I accepted a position as lecturer at the former University of the North (now Limpopo) or 'Turfloop' as it is called,” he says. “I can still clearly remember the day that I packed my car and came to the department to greet Prof (Eckard) Kassier, my supervisor. I was planning to come back to Stellenbosch, the town of my birth, but I did not know how or when. After seven years in the far north of the country, I moved to the Development Bank in Johannesburg for 11 exciting years before returning to Maties after 17 years.
“I have been a researcher and a policy analyst all my life, but what really got me hooked to the academic world was lecturing. As departmental chair, I still lecture our new students because I believe it is important that they have first-hand experience of senior lecturers as early in their (academic) programme as possible. I also lecture them in their final year because by that time they have come to their senses, and the task is so much easier!”
Vink says besides lecturing opportunities, Maties offers him (academic) freedom, “much more than at most other universities in the country”. “This enabled me to follow my own research interests and paved the way for publishing in the process. I have also been able to travel abroad more than 60 times over the last 18 years, including to almost every corner of Africa to attend conferences.” This also enabled him to play a leading role in the above-mentioned associations and to serve as a non-executive director of Rooibos Limited and the South African Reserve Bank.
“This award comes close to the end of my career. I do not view it as a ‘thank you for your long service award’ but rather as an incentive to enjoy all the benefits and privileges that my alma mater has to offer for as long as I am able. Hopefully, I will also be able to teach the new crop of students something useful in the process!”
Vink's research is noted for the different perspectives that he brings to this subject matter, always ensuring that the influences of history, of institutions and of the physical environment are taken into account, says Prof Danie Brink, Dean of the Faculty.
Vink is currently the Chair of the Faculty Committee (of AgriSciences). He served as Chairperson of the Board of Elsenberg Agricultural College (2000 to 2004) and as a council member board (2012 to 2016). He provided many editorial services for scientific publications over the years, including as editor of the African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics and as a member of the editorial board of Development Southern Africa and the Journal of Wine Economics.
"He has distinguished himself as a dedicated teacher over the years," Brink points out. Vink still teaches and is responsible for three undergraduate and two post-graduate modules. He also supervised and trained more than 50 post-graduate students.
“His career is characterised by sustained excellence,” Brink concludes. “He is a role model for all prospective agricultural economists.”
Caption: Prof Nick Vink received the Chancellor's Award for community interaction and research.