From pioneering the mobile technology industry in Africa to driving the development of local community newspapers during the time of resistance to apartheid, the latest cohort to receive honorary doctorates from Stellenbosch University (SU) have all made a positive impact in their respective fields.
The University is proud to announce that five distinguished individuals will be awarded this highest accolade of SU in the 2022 graduation cycle.
The five recipients are Prof Ernest Aryeetey, the founding secretary-general of the African Research Universities Alliance; Ms Zubeida Jaffer, an award-winning South African journalist, author and activist; Mr Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of telecommunications group Econet Global Ltd; Prof Kenneth Shropshire, founding chief executive of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University, and Mr Thomas Dreyer (Tommie) van Zyl, chief executive of the ZZ2 farming enterprise and fresh-produce company.
Their steadfast commitment to changing people's lives for the better resonates strongly with the University's vision of not only promoting excellence, inclusion and innovation, but also advancing social engagement and reciprocal knowledge-sharing for the benefit of society.
“The five recipients of honorary doctorates this year are exceptional individuals who have contributed significantly not only to their immediate communities, but also to the world at large," says Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor. “Their achievements speak for themselves, and the University is proud to be associated with them."
Four of the recipients – Jaffer, Masiyiwa, Van Zyl and Aryeetey – will be awarded their honorary doctorates at the University's end-of-year graduation week, which takes place from 5 to 9 December 2022. Shropshire will be awarded his honorary doctorate in 2023.
In addition, honorary doctorates will be awarded to recipients who were announced previously. They are Prof Agnes Binagwaho, the vice-chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity and former health minister of Rwanda, and Prof Vikram Patel, the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health at Harvard Medical School. Binagwaho's doctorate will be conferred in absentia.
More about the recipients and their honorary doctorates
Prof Ernest Aryeetey:
Aryeetey will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa. The former vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana, Aryeetey is the founding secretary-general of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), a network of universities that focus on building research capacity on the continent. Following the establishment of ARUA, he spearheaded the identification of 13 research areas to facilitate interdisciplinary research collaboration and created 11 ARUA centres of excellence.
Ms Zubeida Jaffer:
An award-winning South African journalist, author and activist, Jaffer will be awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), honoris causa. She started her career at the Cape Times daily newspaper in 1980 and went on to help develop local community newspapers such as Grassroots during the time of resistance to apartheid. She was also the founding editor of Independent Newspapers' parliamentary bureau, serving 14 newspapers across South Africa. Jaffer is the first woman in Africa to have won the coveted foreign journalist award from the National Association of Black Journalists in the United States.
Mr Strive Masiyiwa:
The founder and executive chairman of the South African-based, diversified international telecommunications group Econet Global Ltd, Masiyiwa will be awarded the degree Doctor of Engineering (DEng), honoris causa. He is considered one of the pioneers of the mobile telecoms industry in Africa. He served on the African Union reform task force who paved the way for the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the SMART Africa digital transformation initiative. In 2020, he was named one of Bloomberg's 50 most influential people and Mail & Guardian's 100 Africans of the year. In 2014, 2017 and 2021, Masiyiwa was also included in Fortune magazine's list of the world's 50 greatest leaders.
Prof Kenneth Shropshire:
The degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa, will be awarded to Shropshire, founding chief executive of the Global Sport Institute and the Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University. He currently serves as managing director of the Wharton Coalition for Equity and Opportunity at the University of Pennsylvania. His career spans over 40 years as a professor, business consultant, author and lawyer. Shropshire has done pioneering work on a wide range of sport-related issues, including leading a global sporting event, stadium and arena construction and financing, the relocation of sport franchises, the transition of athletes from the playing field into business, and diversity in sport.
Mr Thomas Dreyer (Tommie) van Zyl:
Van Zyl will be awarded the degree Doctor of Agriculture (DAgric), honoris causa. He has been at the helm of the ZZ2 farming enterprise and fresh-produce company for more than 20 years. The group comprises various independent companies managed under the ZZ2 umbrella and is a megaproducer of tomatoes, avocados, blueberries, cherries, dates and nuts. The company is a significant contributor to the socioeconomic development of South Africa, creating multiple employment opportunities. Van Zyl is considered a global agricultural thought-leader and has been sharing the stage with peers deliberating on innovation and the future of the sector. He believes that entrepreneurship is imperative to create sustainable economic value.
Recipients announced earlier:
Prof Agnes Binagwaho, a Rwandan paediatrician who has made remarkable contributions to improving the health and wellbeing of people in Rwanda and in the rest of Africa, will receive the degree Doctor of Science (DSc) (Medicine and Health Sciences), honoris causa. This former health minister of Rwanda has been at the forefront of the battle against HIV/Aids and the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. She has held key advisory positions at the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. Her passion for health equity contributed to the establishment of the University of Global Health Equity, the first of its kind in Africa. She is also a senior lecturer at Harvard.
Prof Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist and mental health expert, will be awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), honoris causa. He is a leading figure in the global mental health movement, and a key contributor to the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental disorders and the advancement of child development in low and middle-income countries. He is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2015, Patel was included in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people of the year.