Broadening student access and success,
enhancing research excellence, accelerating transformation of the staff body
and ensuring relevance of the curriculum.
These are the four core elements Prof
Ingrid Woolard, newly appointed dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management
Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), has identified as key to the
continued success of the faculty.
Woolard, who is currently serving as Dean
of the Faculty of Commerce and Professor of Economics at the University of Cape
Town, will succeed Prof Stan du Plessis, who was appointed Chief Operating
Officer (designate) of SU earlier this year.
She will be the first woman to lead the
faculty as dean.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of
leading SU’s largest faculty. The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
is renowned for its student-centric approach and excellent results and I’m
excited to be joining such a committed team.”
The SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim
de Villiers, welcomed Woolard’s appointment: “We are delighted that she will be
joining Stellenbosch University as Dean of the Faculty of Economics and
Management Sciences, our largest faculty. She is an internationally recognised
and respected academic and will bring further management experience to the
University. She will add significantly to our future focus as we embark on our
second century as a leading public university in South Africa,” he said.
Expanding on the four core elements Woolard identified, she
“We need to push harder on improving access and the provision
of enhanced financial and learning support for students from poor and
marginalised communities. And once a student is admitted, we have a
responsibility to provide an enabling environment for student success. The
university cannot be a revolving door.”
She identified an early warning system that flags students
that are at risk as early as possible as a critical part of this strategy.
She would also like to foster a culture of research
excellence in the Faculty
“Research ‘superstars’ need to be
acknowledged and rewarded in a way which inspires other colleagues. Academic
staff who have not been particularly research active in the past need to be
encouraged to do so through the provision of sympathetic research mentors who
can build up their confidence and help them address obstacles.
“In addition, being more strategic about
post-graduate supervision, i.e. moving closer to the ‘Science model’ of having
students work on a set of topics/themes that have been selected by the research
group (rather than on disparate topics selected by individual students) would
assist in building the reputation of the research group and reduce the
Woolard’s own areas of research interests
include the measurement of poverty and inequality, unemployment, social
protection and tax policy.
She feels strongly about the transformation
of the staff body and implemented a number of successful strategies at UCT,
including organising regular meetings with black academic staff as a means of
explicitly privileging the voices of this group, creating the position Deputy
Dean: Transformation and announcing that all academic posts would be initially
advertised using a targeted equity statement.
“We need to increase the number
of black, particularly Black African South African, staff. We need to
accelerate the transformation process through aggressive recruitment strategies
and addressing the issues of an unwelcoming institutional culture,” she
In terms of ensuring the
relevance of the curriculum, Woolard believes the Faculty needs to increase the
inclusion of the work of African scholars into the curriculum while ensuring
that it continues to meet the demands of the professional bodies as well as the
needs of the public sector.
Woolard will join SU on 1 May