Fond farewell: Professor Elsabé Loots, Faculty Dean of EMS, steps down

Posted on July 26, 2021

We bid farewell to Professor Elsabé Loots, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, who is stepping down after holding the position for nine years. She tells us about her experiences, lessons learned and future plans.

Please tell us about your career journey up to the time you started at UP?

I progressed to the level of Professor at the then RAU (Rand Afrikaans University). In 2005 I was appointed as Professor at the University of the Free State, followed by an appointment as the Head of School at Monash South Africa and in 2009 as Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at North-West University's Potchefstroom Campus.  

Please tell us about your time at UP and the position/s you’ve held?

I was appointed as Dean of EMS and Professor in Economics in August 2012 and served in the Dean's position for the past nine years.   

What was your favourite thing about your job as Dean?

To be in a position to provide strategic direction to the Faculty and to see the benefits of the strategies in the growth of the academic careers of young and emerging academics. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by talented and very dedicated colleagues, which made it a pleasure to go to work. 

What is your fondest memory of your time at UP?

I have many fond memories: the welcome of the annual new cohort of first-year students; the sharing in the successes of students during graduation ceremonies; the annual awards function of staff; the collegiality amongst fellow deans; and the productive and collegial relationships with the EMS Executive Team, the Heads of Departments and all other EMS Staff. It is these little things that one would miss.  

What are some of the changes that you’ve seen at UP that you’re proud of?

The resilience and continuous creativity, adaptability, and innovations of staff in the teaching and learning space; the immense strides made to become a more research-intensive university and Faculty; the growth in diversity, and the improved international recognition are all aspects to be proud of. 

What is your proudest achievement?

The eventual acknowledgement of all our subject areas on various international ranking lists (QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education (THE), Academic Ranking of World Universities) since 2016. This has clearly shown that UP’s EMS Faculty is now becoming a global player to take note of in various subject areas. It also affirms that our students are performing exceptionally in industry, and that our research endeavours are paying off. These trends are not only benefitting UP and EMS, but also the individual academic careers. Apart from various national and international programme accreditations, EMS is also on its way to receiving international accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for all our BCom qualifications and from the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) for all BAdmin qualifications. These international accreditations will be the first of its kind for non-MBA Business Schools in South Africa and will further enhance our international standing. This will also ensure that we will attract the best quality students, not only from SA, but also from across the continent.   

What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing educators in EMS subjects, and do you have any advice for those who will now take up the task?

Despite the fact that our programmes are regularly updated to remain relevant, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought questions about the future world of work to the fore much quicker. The institutions that will adapt to these new challenges will benefit most. The challenges are to adapt our teaching and learning model while also adapting our research focus areas to this new re-imagined space. These shifts will certainly test the adaptability and flexibility of all involved.  

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I am looking forward to still being involved on different projects at UP and in EMS and also to get back into my original passion on why I entered academia, which is economics, and in particular development economics. And then I am also looking forward to a bit more work-life balance.

Any farewell words to your colleagues and the rest of the UP community?

UP is a big machine that keeps on rolling and striving to continuously improve, despite all the external shocks.

I would like to thank all my colleagues at all levels at UP for the various engagements, loyalty, and positive support over the past nine years. It was a pleasure to work with you. I wish to use the opportunity to wish the VC, Prof Kupe, the members of the Executive, my fellow Deans over the years, the Directors of Support Departments, my successor, Prof Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, and all my colleagues in EMS all the very best for the future. May you take UP and EMS to even greater heights. 


- Author Mecayla Maseka

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