Spring graduation ceremony a family affair as Prof Melck, former UP executive member, hoods his son

Posted on September 12, 2019

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) spring graduation calendar brought something special as former member of the UP executive Professor Antony Melck returned to campus to celebrate the academic achievements of his loved ones.

Prof Melck, who has now retired, was granted the privilege of hooding his son, Marcus, who received a doctorate in history; while his daughter-in-law, Misha, had a master’s in music (Performing Arts) conferred on her. Prof Melck and his wife, Gudrun, travelled from Austria for the momentous occasion.

Prof Melck and his son, Marcus, embrace at the graduation ceremony.

Marcus’ PhD research focused on the identity of German immigration and settlement in South Africa.

“In particular, it has been focused upon the German-South African community of Kroondal, situated on the outskirts of Rustenburg in the North West. I began my investigation into the history of this community over the course of my Honours and then Master’s degrees before pursuing a PhD in this same area of research. The inspiration for wishing to pursue this topic comes from various sources, including the research of my supervisor, Professor Karen Harris,” Marcus said.

He added that his family’s own link to Kroondal – through the maternal side of the family – was his strongest motivator.

Prof Harris, the Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, said they were “extremely proud” of Marcus.

“He was both an undergraduate and postgraduate student in History. He majored in History and did an Honours in History. He also did his Master’s in History under my supervision, which he received cum laude. His doctorate, which I also supervised, was highly acclaimed by the external examiners.”

 Prof Melck (centre), his son, Marcus (left) and his daughter-in-law, Misha (right). 

His sister-in-law, Misha, on the other hand, said her master’s degree and her work as a répétiteur was the result of her discovering that she liked classical music as well the chance to produce work collaboratively with other musicians.

She added that Prof Melck and his wife, a cellist, had been a great support system for her during the journey to getting her masters.

“He helped me with my dissertation. He and his wife have been involved in my master’s journey. And they were always supportive, even when they were in Austria,” she said.

Marcus said his father’s career at UP was an inspiration to him as it cultivated his relationship with knowledge.

“Having grown up in a family that was centred upon academic interests, my father's career has played an important role in my relationship to knowledge. In this respect, my father modelled an approach to education that embraced diversity as well as an active interest in all levels of society, including the field of history and a love of the arts. It is an interest that he not only shared with us as a family, but continually developed in his professional life at the University and beyond. In doing so, the sheer breadth of his interests, extending across multiple fields of interest and expertise, have always served as an inspiration to me,” he said.

Misha concurred, saying Professor Melck’s involvement in the arts had played an important role in her life at UP as well.

“He has always played a big role in supporting classical music. And that has been something that I benefitted from personally, on so many occasions. He championed new projects, competitions, got certain initiatives funded, he got so many things done for the music community. One of these things is the grand piano at the Musaion which has been a part of my life since I was seven years old,” Misha said.

Prof Melck said he appreciated the gift of being able to celebrate with his children in such a special way, especially considering the fact that his family has had a long relationship with the University.  He added that after moving to Europe, he discovered that UP is a quality institution that can compete with its global counterparts.

Being offered the opportunity hood his son had been a welcome surprise, he said.

“That is a special privilege that has been granted to me. I am very pleased and I didn’t expect it. I am not sure who suggested it, but it’s a great privilege,” he said.

- Author Masego Panyane

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