The Council of the University of South Africa (UNISA) is proud to announce that, in a move unprecedented since the establishment of the university 148 years ago, it will have its first female Principal and Vice Chancellor with effect from 01 January 2021. This follows the approval of the appointment of Professor Puleng LenkaBula as the incoming Principal and Vice Chancellor during the special sitting of the UNISA Council on Thursday, 05 November 2020.

The unanimous decision by the UNISA Council follows a rigorous selection process to fill the position, including the requisite consideration and recommendation of candidates by the Executive Committees of the UNISA Senate (SENEX) and the UNISA Institutional Forum (IF). This appointment is further testimony of the commitment of Council to the transformation project it introduced and drove relentlessly in the university over the years; as well as ensuring that its workforce is alive to and reflective of the demographics of the country and the gender empowerment wave sweeping the country.

Professor LenkaBula, who is currently the Vice Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs and Community Engagement at the University of the Free State (UFS), has extensive managerial experience in higher education. Prior to occupying the Vice Rector position at the UFS, she was the Dean of Students at WITS University, where she was a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Office (VCO) and the Senior Executive Team. She also previously held management positions at different institutions, including at UNISA where she had a successful stint as Dean of Students. Professor LenkaBula is also an internationally revered scholar who has published widely; and serves as a board member on local ecumenical and academic formations, including the Council for the Development of Social Sciences Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

“Council is of the firm belief that this appointment bodes well for the future of our university, as we intensify our endeavour to move towards a fully-fledged Open Distance and eLearning dispensation and to solidify our stature as a truly African university in the service of humanity. In Professor LenkaBula, we have appointed the right caliber of leader; who is student-centred and shares our institutional vision on decoloniality and transformation, knowledge-production, innovation and advancing the socio-economic development of South Africa, Africa and the world, in particular for the benefit of Africa.

As Council, we commit ourselves to providing her with the necessary support to ensure that she succeeds in taking our vision of transformation and excellent service delivery to the next level”, said Mr Sakhi Simelane, Chairperson of the UNISA Council. To ensure a smooth hand-over, Council resolved to extend the term of office of the incumbent, Professor Mandla Makhanya, for a period of four months after it expires at the end of the year.

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