The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Professor Tawana Kupe has recently been elected as Chair of the Michigan State University-led Alliance for African Partnerships (MSU-AAP), where he is the only South African Vice-Chancellor and where UP is also the only AAP member from South Africa.
The AAP is a consortium comprising MSU, ten leading African universities, and a distinguished network of African research institutes. AAP is dedicated to transformative impactful research capacity development and knowledge-creation through equitable partnerships that create better futures for Africa and addresses global challenges.
“I am greatly honoured to have been elected by my fellow board members to be Chairman of the Board of AAP and my peers to the Board of the African Association of Universities (AAU),” said Prof Kupe who was also recently elected to the Governing Board of the AAU.
“I strongly believe I was elected because of the stature of the University of Pretoria as a leading African university that is locally, continentally and globally engaged and connected,” he said.
Prof Kupe, who was elected as Chairman of the International Advisory Board of AAP on 20 August, chaired his first meeting as substantive Chair on Thursday 26 August. His chairmanship provides further opportunity to bolster the MSU-UP partnership, which was strengthened through the signing of a bilateral memorandum of understanding during a virtual signing ceremony on 1 June 2021, and for UP to further learn, collaborate, and partner with AAP member universities.
The formalisation of the MSU-UP partnership was driven and enabled by UP’s Africa-Global University Project (AGUP) strategy, which gives expression to the vision that UP has for itself, namely, to be the leading research-intensive African university that makes local impact and is globally relevant.
Recent collaborative programmes between MSU and UP include joint research programmes to address the AAP’s priority research themes such as food security and sustainable food systems; initiatives focused on research and capacity building for entrepreneurship and youth innovations across Africa; and professional development support for early-career African women scholars. Such an initiative is MSU-AAP’s African Future Research Leadership Programme which is hosted between MSU and UP, with UP hosting the programme’s fellows for several weeks at the end of their split-site fellowship. UP Department of Anatomy lecturer Dr Nkhensani Mogale is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the programme. UP and MSU would like to see more capacity building for African early-career researchers, especially women, in similar programme designs.
The election of Prof Kupe reaffirms his contribution to being a “globally-engaged citizen, serving local needs with a focus on the most pressing challenges faced across the world”, as MSU President Dr Samuel L Stanley Jnr put it when Prof Kupe was recognised with an honorary doctorate in front of an audience at MSU in 2019.
This election follows the Prof Kupe’s recent election to the Governing Board of the AAU on 8 August 2021. The AAU aims to improve the quality of African higher education, and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development by supporting the core functions of higher education institutions and facilitating critical reflection and consensus building on issues affecting higher education. UP is the only South African university represented on the Governing Board and Prof Kupe is the only Vice-Chancellor on the Board from a South African university.
“People see value in UP as an agent of and driver of societal change using high quality education and knowledge creation for transformative futures for Africa and the world,” said Prof Kupe.