(Cofa apha ukuze ufumane isiXhosa)
The Council of Stellenbosch University held its second of four scheduled meetings for the year on Monday 20 June 2022. As has become our custom, we again met in hybrid mode, with some members participating online and others gathering on campus.
As the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, reported, the undisputed highlight this quarter was the installation of Justice Edwin Cameron as our 15th Chancellor on 18 May. We are indeed fortunate to have such a strong proponent of human dignity in this important position.
Sadly, though, the celebration was overshadowed by the shocking urination incident at Huis Marais the preceding weekend, causing our university much shame and pain. In the same week, we were also deeply distressed to learn of an alleged case of rape at another of our Stellenbosch residences.
At our meeting last week, Council discussed these matters in depth, with due regard to the integrity of the legal and disciplinary processes that have since unfolded. Management was commended for appointing an independent commission of enquiry led by Justice Sisi Khampepe.
The hope was expressed that we would use this opportunity to uncover our blind spots so that we may live up to the heartfelt sentiment of the University community in the wake of the regrettable incidents, namely “This is not us."
The point was made that Stellenbosch University was well placed to further advance the scholarship of transformation in higher education – not only because it is a leading academic institution, but also because of its particular history. Council decided to henceforth start its meetings by reflecting on the University's restitution statement.
We also gave the green light to ceremonial versions of the new Stellenbosch University logo, approved the 2021 financial statements and annual integrated report, adopted a new policy on consultation work by employees, noted the reappointment of two deans, and approved a once-off gratuity payment to staff members.
Please read on for further details.
Chair: Stellenbosch University Council
Transformative student experience
In his management report (click here for the full document, and here for a PowerPoint presentation), the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, briefed Council on various programmes and initiatives that had been put in place for newcomer students to help them navigate their new social environment. These include the University's extensive and comprehensive residential education (ResEd) programme called Siyakhula (“We are growing"). The programme entails interactive workshops designed to expose newcomers to new ways of thinking, and to help them see the world through the eyes of others. This is in line with our core strategic theme of providing a “transformative student experience".
Council also welcomed the introduction of a Transformation Charter by our Division of Student Affairs, in which we pledge to “provide a learning home for all persons to thrive and be treated with respect and humanity".
Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, Prof Nico Koopman, used his annual reporting opportunity to brief Council on progress with transformation as a cross-cutting strategy for combating racism and gender-based violence at our institution. He also covered other aspects of his portfolio. Click here for his full report, here for his PowerPoint presentation, and here to read a summary.
2021 annual integrated report and financial statements
Council approved SU's 2021 annual integrated report, including the University's consolidated annual financial statements, at the recommendation of its Audit and Risk Committee.
It was noted that the University had received an unqualified external audit report for its financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2021. The Audit and Risk Committee also confirmed that adequate internal financial control systems were being maintained and that there had been no material defects in the functioning of these systems during the year.
Council approved SU's going-concern status and expressed the opinion that the University was in a favourable financial position, with sufficient resources in place to continue its operations for the next 12 months.
Minor editorial changes to the annual report were requested. These will be made before the report and statements are submitted to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology by the end of June, as required.
Institutional audit self-evaluation report
Council approved the self-evaluation report that had been compiled to initiate the University's institutional audit conducted by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The CHE's new quality assurance cycle requires all higher education institutions to undergo an institutional audit in 2022.
An institutional audit is an external quality assurance mechanism. Its aim is to evaluate the coherence and effectiveness of an institution's internal quality assurance system in enabling student success and improving the core functions of learning and teaching, research and community engagement (social impact).
Our self-evaluation covers the period 2018 to 2021. However, to provide additional context, some information from 2014 and 2022 was also included.
The self-evaluation report and accompanying portfolio of evidence will be submitted to the CHE by 30 June, as required. The University will then receive a peer review site visit later this year.
As we have done once before (for 2020), Council approved a once-off payment to staff members as a gesture of gratitude for work done in the the difficult circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2021. The gratuity, equalling 1% of staff's total cost-to-company package, was paid out as part of the June 2022 salary cycle. Click here for more information.
Policy on consultation work
Council approved a new institutional policy on consultation work done by SU employees for external clients. Consultation work is permitted, but will be managed in accordance with staff's performance appraisals and the existing process for research contract management. The new policy will also ensure that consultancy fees paid to employees comply with all relevant SU policies and the regulations of the South African Revenue Service. The policy owner is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, while the director of Research Contracts in the Division of Research Development serves as the policy custodian. The document will be uploaded to our policy repository as soon as possible, and will take effect on 1 August.
New emblem and seal
Council unanimously approved a new emblem and seal for the University to complement the new logo that we adopted in April 2021. The emblem and seal are ceremonial versions of the logo.
From left, SU’s corporate logo for ordinary use, and the new emblem and seal for use on qualification certificates.
This facilitates alignment with the uniform, coherent brand architecture and brand positioning of our corporate brand identity. For enquiries, please contact the Branding team of Corporate Communication and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two deans reappointed
Council noted the reappointment of Profs Reggie Nel and Tony Leysens as deans of Theology and Arts & Social Sciences respectively when their first terms expire on 31 October and 31 December 2022. The chair of the Senior Appointments Committee had approved the two deans' reappointment, having also obtained their faculty boards' support. Prof Nel will serve a further five years, and Prof Leysens two.
Dr Nicky Newton-King, elected by SU's donors for the term 2 April 2022 to 1 April 2026, attended her first Council meeting.
Prof Eugene Cloete's term as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies will come to an end on 31 July 2022. See the previous Communication from Council for the motion adopted to congratulate Prof Cloete on his two successful terms and thank him for his work.
Ms Lazelle Bonthuys, Deputy Registrar: Centre for Governance Function Support, will be retiring at the end of the year, but will miss the next two Council meetings due to leave. The chair of Council praised her work ethic and thanked her for her 36 years of diligent service.
Mr Desmond Thompson, Senior Communication Specialist: Executive Management, will be leaving the University at the end of June 2022 to take up a position elsewhere. The Rector thanked him for his 12 years of committed service.
Members whose terms will expire before the next meeting
The term of Prof Aslam Fataar, elected by Senate from its own ranks, will end on 30 June 2022. On 3 June, Senate elected Prof Leslie le Grange to fill this Council vacancy.
Also ending on 30 June is the term of Dr Lihle Qulu as Council member elected from the ranks of permanent academic staff who are not members of Senate.
The following members were appointed to the indicated Council committees:
- Honorary Degrees Committee: Dr Therese Fish
- Honorary Degrees Nominations Committee: Dr Leon Schreiber
- Language Committee: Prof Nicola Smit (as Council member elected by Senate) and Mr Willie Liebenberg (as Council member elected by the Convocation)
- Language Committee chair: Ms Nadine Moodie
- Social and Business Ethics Committee: Dr Nicky Newton-King as additional member
- Social and Business Ethics Committee chair: Ms Gwen Ngwenya
- Dr Therese Fish, Vice-Dean: Clinical Services and Social Impact of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, received a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) in Higher Education Management from the University of Bath, United Kingdom, on 11 June. She also holds an MBChB from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the Stellenbosch Business School.
- Ms Ziyanda Stuurman, a former SU student leader who serves on Council as an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, graduated with a Master of Arts degree from Brandeis University in the United States. She also holds a master's degree from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, and two degrees from SU – a BA International Studies and a BA Honours in Political Science.
- Dr Lihle Qulu, a senior lecturer in SU's Division of Medical Physiology, was recently awarded an Early Investigators Programme grant from the South African Medical Research Council. Qulu, who has a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is researching factors that influence sexual aggression in males.
Council's next meeting is scheduled for 26 September 2022.