Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Prof Tawana Kupe

 Prof Kupe's portfolio includes:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Executive
  • Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship
  • Institutional Planning (Strategic)
  • Institutional Advancement
  • Transformation Office
  • International Council member for the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) from 2020-2024


Professor Tawana Kupe is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria since January 2019.

Before joining the University of Pretoria, he held the positions of Vice Principal responsible for running the university, Deputy Vice Chancellor Advancement, Human Resources and Transformation, Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Operations and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Wits University.

He holds BA honours and master’s degrees in English from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo in Norway. In December 2019, Prof Kupe received an honorary doctorate from Michigan State University in the US, and another from the University of Montpellier in France, in October 2021.

He was the founding Head of the Media Studies Department at Wits University, and lectured at Rhodes University.

Prior to his tenure at Rhodes, Prof Kupe worked in various academic capacities at the University of Zimbabwe, including as Chairperson of the Department of English, Media and Communication Studies.

Prof Kupe has a notable publication record, having authored journal articles, books and book chapters in his main discipline, media studies and journalism. He edited the book Broadcasting Policy and Practice in Africa and co-edited Go Home or Die Here. He is also Managing Editor of the African Journal of Information and Communication. Additionally, Prof Kupe is a member of the advisory boards of the Journal of African Media Studies and the Global Handbooks in Media and Communication Research series; he also sits on the editorial board of Literary Studies.

In 2020, he was elected to the international council of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The organisation supports and develops media and communication research throughout the world, and encourages the participation of emerging scholars, women and those from economically disadvantaged regions.

Prof Kupe is the Africa Co-Chair of the Australia-Africa Universities Network, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Michigan State University-led African Alliance Partnership and Chairman of the Montpellier University of Excellence International Advisory Board.

Prof Kupe is a board member of the Association of African Universities, the African Research Universities Association, a council member and trustee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the South African representative of the Austria-Africa University Network.

He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation in South Africa and its representative on the board of ASSAf, and the South African Sustainable Development Goals Policy Support Initiative’s Advisory Committee.

He is an active member of several civil society organisations in the media space, and has served as Chairman of the Board of the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism since 2009. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Media Monitoring Africa since 2005, steering the agency in its mandate of promoting media accountability and the role of the media as an integral institution in sustaining democracy. Prof Kupe is a board of a new organisation, Campaign for Free Expression, which focuses on protecting and enabling free expression for all.

He is a popular speaker, academic expert and regular commentator on issues of media performance on radio, television and print media in South Africa, for both local and international broadcasters and publications.

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