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Six honorary doctorates, many qualifications to be awarded at December graduation
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Candes Keating]
Published: 08/12/2023

​​​​​Next week, Stellenbosch University (SU) will confer 5 779 qualifications across 13 ceremonies during its December graduation week. Graduation, which is a highlight on the University’s academic calendar, will take place from Monday–Friday, 11–15 December 2023.

Of the qualifications that will be conferred, 139 are PhDs, 614 are masters and 935 are honours qualifications. The qualifications also include undergraduate Bachelors (professional and general) degrees, and undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas and certificates. The prestigious event will also feature the awarding of six honorary doctorates to extraordinary recipients who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields and made a significant contribution to society.

Several staff members will also receive the University’s prestigious Chancellor’s Award. This award gives recognition to staff members whose careers attest to sustained excellence in research, innovation, learning and teaching, social impact and professional services. The annual Chancellor’s Medal will also be awarded to the top achiever. This will be announced at the recipient’s graduation.

Honorary doctorates

The recipients of the honorary doctorates include:

Ms Charlotte Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo
McClain-Nhlapo will be awarded the degree Doctor of Phi​losophy (DPhil), honoris causa, for her lifelong work on social justice and equality. She is currently the Global Disability Advisor to the World Bank Group. 

Prof Pumla Dineo Gqola
Gqola, an academic, writer, and gender activist, will be awarded the degree Doctor of Literature (Dlitt), honoris causa. Beyond her academic pursuits, Gqola has demonstrated a commitment to social justice and gender equality. 

Prof Lehana Thabane
An internationally recognised scholar and biostatistician, Thabane, will be awarded the degree Doctor of Science (DSc) (Medicine and Health Sciences), honoris causa, for his contribution to clinical trial methodology. 

Dr Robert Martin Adam
Adam will be awarded the degree Doctor of Science (DSc), honoris causa, for his substantial contribution to science, technology and society. He is the former director of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa. 

Prof Kenneth Shropshire
The Managing Director of the Wharton Coalition for Equity and Opportunity (CEO) at the University of Pennsylvania, Shropshire, will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa. He is known as one of the foundational scholars of sports law and business.

Ms Nomfundo Tshazibana
Deputy governor of the SARB and CEO of the Prudential Authority, Tshazibana will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa, for her promotion of economic growth and stability in SA.

*Click here to read more about the honorary doctorate recipients. 

Academic home

SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers commended the graduands and all those who supported them along the way.

“Your qualification from SU will open doors for you, no matter where you are in the world. We have a good reputation locally and globally, aided by the fact that our graduates make an impact wherever they go,” he said.

“I know the lessons that you have learnt here will stand you in good stead, and I hope you will continue to live by SU’s values – equity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.”

De Villiers also encouraged the graduating class to stay in touch with their alma mater and be part of the University’s future through its global alumni network. 

“SU will always be your academic home, and participating in alumni activities will enhance your professional development going forward.”

• The ceremonies will be livestreamed at 

• Click here​ to find out more about the December graduation series.