Stellenbosch University (SU) had to appoint a new Rector and Vice-Chancellor after Prof Russel Botman unexpectedly passed away on 28 Junie 2014. It was the first time in the University's history that a Rector and Vice-Chancellor had died during his term of office.
The University's Chief Operating Officer, Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen, was appointed in an acting capacity until a new Rector and Vice-Chancellor could assume office.
On 1 December 2014, following an extensive selection process, Prof Wim de Villiers, Dean of the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Health Sciences, was appointed as Stellenbosch University's new Rector and Vice-Chancellor. He will take up his position on 1 April 2015.
De Villiers (55), a Matie alumnus and medical doctor who also studied and worked in England and America for 24 years, will become the University's 12th Rector (although the title of this post has changed a number of times through the years).
Click here for more information on Prof De Villiers. Further background on processes can be found below.
When Prof Botman passed away, Prof Van Huyssteen was already acting as Rector and Vice-Chancellor. He had been appointed in this capacity shortly before by Prof Botman, who was about to travel overseas on official business.
Soon after Prof Botman's death, Mr George Steyn, Chairperson of the University Council, reconfirmed Prof Van Huyssteen as Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor. This decision was endorsed at an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of Council [EC(C)]. This was done for strategic and operational reasons – and in order to maintain stability.
The first Council meeting after Prof Botman's death took place on 29 September 2014. The decision by the EC(C) on behalf of the Council that Prof Van Huyssteen would stay on in an acting capacity until a new Rector assumed office was duly noted. As required by the Statute of the University when someone acts for longer than three months, Senate and the Institutional Forum was consulted about this decision.
Apart from Prof Van Huyssteen's experience at senior management level, he was Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences for almost seven years, and also served as the acting Vice-Rector (Research) for a considerable period.
At a special meeting on 21 July 2014, Council's Executive Committee [EC(C)] initiated the process of appointing a new Rector and Vice-Chancellor. The aim was to conclude the decision-making by the last scheduled Council meeting for the year on 1 December 2014.
As determined by the Statute, a Selection Committee comprising 17 members – with representatives from Council and the other statutory bodies of the University, as well as various interest groups – was established. There was consultation on the job description and the related advertisement, and the vacancy was communicated in the media.
The candidates on the final shortlist appeared before a special joint session of the Selection Committee, Senate and the Institutional Forum (IF) to make presentations about their vision for the University and the role that they envisaged for themselves. Council members could also attend this closed session. Senate and the IF then formally expressed their view on the suitability for appointment of each of the candidates, and made a recommendation to Council about their preferred candidate.
On 1 December 2014, Council decided to appoint Prof Wim de Villiers as the new Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University. He will take up his position on 1 April 2015.