Posted on June 25, 2021
University of Pretoria (UP) Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe recently joined a conversation hosted by the University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN). This is the largest global event dedicated to university-industry interaction, entrepreneurship, and the future of higher education.
Prof Kupe was joined by academics and industry giants from all over the world such as Feridun Hamdullah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Natalie Forde, Director of Business Development at the University of Adelaide, Australia.
He formed part of a panel that discussed ‘The future of global higher education: Disruption, innovation and transformation: Are you ready?’. Panellists included Dr Lisa Coleman, New York University (NYU)’s Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion and Strategic Innovation, Fatiah Touray, Senior Director of Inclusion and Equity at NYU Abu Dhabi, and Teboho Moja, Professor of Higher Education at NYU and the University of Western Cape, and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria.
Monroe France, Associate Vice President for Global Engagement and Leadership at NYU, facilitated the dialogue. France started the conversation by encouraging all the panellists and attendees to take a moment of silence for those who lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who continue to face injustices. Following this, France asked all the panellists, “How have you as a leader addressed social change and transformation?” Prof Kupe responded by making reference to seven key words, namely “disruption, adaptability, agility, flexibility, rethink, reimagine and reposition”.
“Before COVID-19 started, disruption was used mainly by futurists and people in the technological space, but once COVID-19 started, disruption gained real-world meaning to everyone from political leaders to us in higher education, so we all experienced disruption at the same level,” Prof Kupe said. “It also made me reflect and realise the world has been disrupted for a while, but we did not take proper notice of it. We were disrupted by climate change, other pandemics, injustice, inequality, racism, and negative globalisation, now we are forced to pay sharp attention to all these things.”
During the closing remarks he added, “I think [universities] require a reimagined trajectory that is sustained, sustainable, and truly transformative.”
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