Stellenbosch University
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Prof Johan Matthee leaves a lasting legacy
Author: Ronél Beukes
Published: 21/10/2020

The JA Matthee Bursary Fund has recently been established after the late Prof Johan Matthee, former Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and longtime chair of the (then) Department of Accounting, bequeathed nearly R12 million to Stellenbosch University for postgraduate studies in economic and management sciences.

The capital income will be made available annually for postgraduate bursaries in two categories. The first category is for one or more postgraduate bursaries for studies within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, while the second is for doctoral studies at an overseas university.

Prof Matthee joined the Department of Accounting (now the School of Accountancy) in 1965, and became the youngest professor at Stellenbosch University in 1972. He made a significant contribution to the development of both the Department and the Faculty and was instrumental in formalising accountancy qualifications. He retired in 2001 after an academic career spanning 36 years at SU. He passed away on 1 July 2018.

“His generous bequest is heartwarming," Faculty Dean Prof Ingrid Woolard said. “As a respected academic, Prof Matthee shaped many young minds and now, thanks to the JA Matthee Bursary Fund, he will continue to inspire students."

Under the provisions of the will, Prof Matthee's two sons, Werner and Heinrich Matthee, will serve on the selection panel of the postgraduate bursary fund and the doctoral bursary fund respectively. Criteria for candidates include academic performance and quality of character and leadership.

“We are happy about the establishment of the bursary fund, and grateful that our father's wishes are being fulfilled," said Mr Heinrich Matthee.

Prof Matthee's fine figure, respect for others, professional conduct and the fact that he was always accessible to his staff, are just some of the characteristics invariably mentioned by former colleagues. There was also his legendary ability to add a long list of figures accurately by simply moving his finger over them.

Marie Malherbe, prof Matthee's former secretary, likes recounting the amusing moments in the Dean's Office. She said there were many because of Prof Matthee's mischievous streak.

At the time of his inauguration as Dean in 1996, he said, “I've never had a job. My work has always been my hobby – my work is exhilarating to me." Everyone who has been fortunate enough to work with him, will vouch for this.

“On behalf of the university community we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Prof Matthee. We honour his memory and look forward to implementing his wishes," Prof Woolard said.

  • Photo: Prof Johan Matthee (second from left) with his former secretary, Ms Marie Malherbe, and former deans of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the Faculty's 90th anniversary celebration in 2015. F.l.t.r. are SU's COO, Prof Stan du Plessis; Prof Matthee;  Ms Malherbe; Prof Estian Calitz; and Prof Johann de Villiers.