University of Pretoria strengthens institutional ties with New York University

Posted on May 19, 2020

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria (UP) Professor Tawana Kupe and Dr Lisa Coleman, Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion, Diversity and Strategic Innovation at New York University (NYU), have signed an institutional agreement to cooperate in the areas of transformational leadership, faculty exchange, renewal and transformation of curricula, and student leadership capacity development.

Through this agreement the institutions will also offer each other opportunities for activities and programmes such as teaching, research, staff development, and the exchange of information, materials and resources.

The desire to develop a multidisciplinary globally focused leadership programme is driven by the dearth of global leaders and responsive institutions equipped to address complex transformation and diversity challenges associated with race, gender, social class, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion. As part of the UP-NYU institutional partnership, an executive education programme will be developed and will focus on inclusive innovation for individuals and institutions across sectors, including higher education, government, the private sector and civil society.

NYU is an ideal institutional partner for UP as it is the largest private research university in the United States with a diverse student demographic (24% international, 20% white, 19% Asian, and 9% African-American) enrolled at campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. NYU also has 11 global academic centres and research programmes in more than 25 countries. Both UP and NYU are equally committed to strengthening a university-wide culture of diversity, inclusion and equity in order to promote a transformative and globally inclusive community.

The Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation department at NYU will lead the university’s efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion across its global network. Through its key institutional platforms such as the Future Africa Campus and Javett Art Centre, UP will share multidisciplinary approaches to inclusive innovation and diversity.

“Our institutional collaboration on inclusion, diversity and strategic innovation comes at an opportune moment when we need to strengthen efforts to support the transformation of universities and society at large,” Prof Kupe said. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to how we work and relate to each other, both within our institutions and as individuals. Both our institutions have valuable experience and resources that enable us to strategically innovate and respond to challenges related to equity, diversity and inclusion.” Furthermore, the higher education system in South Africa is tasked with addressing histories of exclusion and marginalisation that were embedded in the system during the apartheid era. This includes, but is not limited to, widening higher education access to students from previously disadvantaged groups.

A testament to UP’s commitment to the transformation of society at large was recently recognised through the Times Higher Education ranking initiative which recognises universities across the world for their social and economic impact, based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. UP featured in the top 100 for Quality Education (SDG 4); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9); and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16). It was ranked in the 101-200 band for Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17) and Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3), with no South African university ranked under 200 in this category.

He also explained that UP has four innovative collaborative platforms (Future Africa Institute, Javett UP Art Centre, Engineering 4.0 facility and Innovation Africa@UP which is under construction) “that can be leveraged in our partnership, which seeks to craft innovative transdisciplinary research projects to co-create knowledge that is transformative and addresses the deep-seated complex problems in both our countries and across the world”.

- Author Dr Farai Kapfudzaruwa

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