Cape Town – Black academics at UCT held a silent protest on Thursday against the appointment of a white deputy vice chancellor.
The Black Academics Caucus (BAC) are against the appointment of Associate Professor Lis Lange, appointed in late 2017, for the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning. Before her appointment at UCT, Lange worked as a Vice Rector at the University of Free State.
Lange was up against Professor Elelwani Ramugondo who is a UCT academic and an advisor to the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Dr Mad Price.
Opposition to appointment
In response to the appointment, BAC released a statement rejecting Lange’s appointment as a setback for transformation. Lange is white and hails from Argentina.
Furthermore, they claimed that she does not meet the key criteria advertised for the position and that she did not meet the academic requirements for full professorship at UCT. The group decried the exclusion of Ramugondo who was deemed ‘unappointable’, despite being qualified and meeting all the requirements.
UCT hits back
In a strongly worded response to BAC, Dr Price berated their stance as ‘ill informed and incorrect’. Price defended the appointment of Lange saying that she meets all the requirements and has the necessary expertise to execute her duties. In justifying the appointment, Price said that it was a selection committee with a majority of black people that appointed Lange. Price lambasted the assertion that the candidate had not received enough support from Senate, claiming that none of the candidates received the required two thirds majority.
On transformation, Price argued that Lange has a commendable track record in transformation so much that she received a recommendation from a former black Vice Chancellor, an apparent reference at former UFS principal, Professor Jonathan Jansen.
On Thursday academics from BAC, white colleagues and students held a silent protest on the steps of Bremner building, the seat of the UCT executive. There was no memorandum submitted, one of the organizers Dr Shose Kessi said that it was merely an awareness campaign at this point.
Responding to the claim that a majority of black people appointed a white candidate, she said that those candidates cannot be used as a shield against the critique of the decision.
Read UCT’s Vice Chancellor’s full response here