Prof Wim de Villiers has been appointed for a second five-year term as Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) – from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2025.
It was a unanimous decision by the SU Council at its third scheduled meeting of the year on Wednesday, 25 September 2019. The Institutional Forum and Senate, statutory bodies of SU, earlier recommended the reappointment of Prof De Villiers.
“We are very pleased with the accomplishments of Prof De Villiers to date," Council chair Mr George Steyn said. “With him at the helm, SU has excelled in key areas. He has also proposed a compelling vision and set of priorities for his second term, which will further help the University address major challenges."
Prof De Villiers said his reappointment was a great honour for him and expressed his appreciation for the confidence shown in him. “We have major challenges ahead, but also wonderful opportunities. It is a privilege to be able to lead SU on our new journey into the future."
SU achievements during Prof De Villiers's first term include the University's Centenary project in 2018, and the development of a new vision and strategic framework for the foreseeable future, which took effect earlier this year.
Further highlights include the establishment of SU's School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, and the review of the SU Statute. Prof De Villiers also initiated a bursary fund for descendants of residents of Die Vlakte, a Stellenbosch residential area adjacent to and overlapping with the University's campus which fell victim to forced removals in the 1960s.
Moreover, access to SU has been broadened, record numbers of qualifications have been conferred, and high levels of student success and research outputs have been maintained. Internationalisation has increased and the institution's social impact is also growing ever stronger. In addition, financial aid for students has been extended, campus renewal has made steady progress, and SU continues to excel in sports and culture.
“Our staff and students also deserve credit for their hard work and dedication that has brought us this far. My appreciation to each and every one who has been helping to build a strong institution," Prof De Villiers said.
The VC's own vision for his second term is aligned with the University's Vision 2040, namely to turn SU into Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society. He also supports the mission and strategic themes of the University and identifies with the institutional values of excellence, compassion, accountability, respect and equity. “These are values we should all live by," he says.
With his list of priorities for his second term, Prof De Villiers aims to see the University thrive. These include:
- further strengthening SU as a research-intensive institution;
- increased digitalisation (for example by expanding hybrid learning and teaching, as well as new computer systems for finance and student administration);
- continued campus renewal; and
- enhanced internationalisation.
“Yet my top priority remains our people – our students and our staff. Without them, there is no University. That is why I will continue to promote their success and development," the VC said.
He also thanked alumni, funders and donors of the University for their loyal support of the University.
Does Prof De Villiers, who turns 60 on 26 September 2019, plan on continuing his personal efforts to raise bursary funds for students? Among others, he completed the Cape Town Marathon, the Cape Town Cycle Tour (twice) and a cycling trip from London to Brighton in aid of this deserving cause during his first term. “I have lots of energy left to tackle all our challenges and make the most of our opportunities," he says with a smile.
Prof De Villiers is asking friends, colleagues, staff and alumni not to give him birthday gifts, but to instead make a donation to the Die Vlakte Bursary Fund. Follow this link for more information https://www.givengain.com/cc/no-gifts-please
* In November 2016, Prof De Villiers received an honorary doctorate from Coventry University in the United Kingdom. The next year, his outstanding higher education leadership was recognised with an award from the Crossley Foundation. He is deputy chairperson of Universities South Africa (USAf), chairperson of Higher Health – a sector body focusing on student health and wellness at South African universities and technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges – and also serves on the council of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). In addition, he is a council member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
Photo: Anton Jordaan