Prof. Tawana Kupe officially takes reins as Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria

Posted on January 14, 2019

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tawana Kupe, officially stepped into his new role on Monday, saying, “It is an honour and privilege to take over the reins at this proud institution at such a key moment in South African and global history.”

Prof. Kupe’s appointment was announced in November by the UP Council, the university’s highest decision-making body, following the resignation of former Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, who is set to head the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Prof. Kupe 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. He served as Executive Dean of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Faculty of Humanities for six years, after serving as the Head of the then Wits School of Literature and Language Studies, and was also the founding Head of the Media Studies Department.

More recently, he was Vice-Principal of Wits, responsible for the daily running of the University and the coordination of operations across all executive portfolios. Prior to this, he held the rotating Vice-Principal post for one year, and also served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Advancement, Human Resources and Transformation from January 2013. 

Prior to joining Wits, Prof. Kupe lectured at Rhodes University between 1999 and 2001, and briefly acted as the Head of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. He joined Rhodes from the University of Zimbabwe, where he worked in various academic capacities from 1988, including as Chairperson of the Department of English, Media and Communication Studies.

Prof. Kupe expressed his excitement at starting in his new role: “The changes taking place in the higher education sector present great opportunities for UP to continue to innovate as we find new ways to make education more accessible to young people thirsty for education. UP is the largest contact university in South Africa, is one of the top producers of PhDs in the country, and is regarded as a national and international leader in research, with over 30 of our researchers counted among the top 1% of scientists globally. Our research makes a decisive difference to South Africa and Africa's futures, and I am confident that – with the support of UP’s dedicated staff and impressive student body – we will continue to grow that impact.

“During Professor De la Rey’s tenure, great strides were made in positioning UP as an institution that is a welcoming home to some of the greatest minds from Cape Town to Pretoria to Addis Ababa and beyond. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues as we continue to create a diverse and inclusive UP community, producing well-educated, well-trained graduates who make a contribution to economic and social development and help create the society envisaged in our Constitution.”

The new Vice-Chancellor said he plans to spend time at each of the university’s faculties and campuses in the weeks and months ahead, and hopes to meet as many of his colleagues as possible. He urged staff to share their ideas “on how we can move ahead on our shared goals of maintaining UP’s position as one of the top 2% of universities in the world, while continuing to expand our national and international reach”.

- Author Department of University Relations

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

To contact the University during the COVID-19 lockdown, please send an email to [email protected]

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences