UP mourns loss of GIBS patron Sir Donald Gordon

Posted on November 22, 2019

The University of Pretoria (UP) mourns the loss of benefactor, philanthropist, investor and entrepreneur Sir Donald Gordon, who passed away today.

Sir Gordon was the founder of financial services group Liberty Life. UP’s business school, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), was established in 2000, following an endowment from the Donald Gordon Foundation. Sir Gordon’s contribution was aligned with the view that education is a critical component in business. His generosity touched many aspects of society, including the arts, education and health sciences locally and abroad.

Sir Gordon, who made a major financial contribution to UP, said the donation was to highlight his appreciation of the quality of the South African business environment. This had enabled him to become a success in the financial services industry, at home and abroad. Sir Gordon’s choice of education as the sector in which he would reinvest part of his financial success, reflects the importance of quality management in the business place.

The late Sir Donald Gordon

In his opening speech at GIBS on 14 March 2000 he said:

  • “Remember that overnight success usually takes about 15 years.”
  • “Never accept that existing practices can't be improved upon – there will always be a better or alternative way of doing things. If you identify them, see it through to the end with meticulous care.”
  • “Strive for excellence, not perfection.”
  • “Take care of your reputation, it’s your most valuable asset.”
  • “Never give up on what you really want to do.”
  • “The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.”
  • “Be bold and courageous.”

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said the business school Sir Gordon founded 19 years ago has been number one in Africa for several years, and is internationally recognised. “Thousands of graduates have passed through the school, which has made an impact nationally, on our continent, and internationally.”

Prof Kupe said, “Sir Gordon has proven that business can be a force for positive change and economic development in our country. His legacy will live on in future generations of GIBS graduates. We thank him for what he has done for UP. May his soul rest in peace. We send our condolences to his family.”


- Author Primarashni Gower

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