As the first black African vice chancellor of the predominantly white Rhodes University, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela sticks out like a sore thumb. Heading what is generally perceived as one of the “least transformed” universities his performance will be under intense scrutiny and he will be under intense pressure to perform.
The transformation review at the top end of the University academia is not impressive. Of the university’s 57 full-time professors, only four are black and 12 female. None of the university’s eight deans is black, and only two are women.
Thus, Mabizela knows that an enormous task in transforming the university’s colour awaits him. “This is not acceptable, he says. “I will be the first to acknowledge that we need to do a lot more, and it has not been for lack of trying. There are no short-cuts in creating opportunities for black and female academics. It’s not a quick an easy thing to do; you can’t buy professors. You need to create opportunities for them to rise through the ranks as quickly as possible.”
In addition to transforming the organisation, Mabizela says he is aiming to elevate Rhodes University to Ivy League status.
What should encourage Mabizela is that, as the first black African to hold the position, his appointment has been widely accepted in higher education circles.
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