VC greets Mamelodi

Posted on October 18, 2018

UP’s Mamelodi campus became the first to host a farewell event for Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Cheryl de la Rey when she visited to say goodbye on Friday 12 October.

After a warm welcome, Prof de la Rey shared that her decision to move on from UP was all about timing. She said her 9 years at UP are the highlight of her career thus far, and explained that she didn't want a once-off farewell, but rather a series of smaller, informal and more personal events at the various campuses. “Mamelodi campus has a special place in my heart, as universities by their nature are institutes of dreams,” she said. “Many have their dream shattered in their first year of studies, and this is why I believe in foundation programmes. Universities must be a place where dreams come alive, not where they die.”

She told the audience that her fondest memories of Mamelodi campus are the cleaning activities undertaken in the local community on Mandela Day, the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture delivered by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and having the Gauteng Premier visit and congratulate UP on the work being done at Mamelodi.

Mr Edwin Smith, Manager: Campus Operations, welcomed the VC and joked that as this was the first of the VC’s series of farewells, Mamelodi was setting the bar high for the other campuses. He introduced the Dean of Mamelodi Campus, Prof Nthabiseng Ogude, who congratulated Prof De la Rey on behalf of her staff on her appointment as VC of New Zealand’s University of Canterbury.  

Prof Ogude said although she and her colleagues are sad to see the VC go, she wanted to use the occasion to celebrate her contributions to Mamelodi Campus since 2009. Prof Ogude singled out the Foundation programme and the Anchor Strategy as the biggest legacy items Prof De la Rey would leave behind at Mamelodi. The Foundation programme helped bridge the gap when a student left school to attend university. “It was also necessary to overcome some of the challenges left by apartheid,” Prof Ogude said.

UP Mamelodi alumnus Ms Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry agreed with Prof Ogude about the impact of the Foundation programme. “When I started, I initially thought the extra year of studies was an insult to my intelligence,” she said. “However, my negative attitude towards it changed when I realised how important it was to get accustomed to life after school. I learnt that tertiary studies is not only about academics, but also about building networks.”

Ms Swalarsk-Parry is currently completing her PhD in Microbiology, and in concluding paid an emotional tribute to Prof De la Rey, saying, “You helped us rise from underdog to top dog. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you."

- Author Myan Subrayan

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