UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Phakeng joins University of Bristol as first Illustrious Visiting Professor

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 27, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has embarked on a new role as the University of Bristol’s first-ever Bristol Illustrious Visiting Professor with an aim to supercharge African scholarship, inspire learning, and strengthen relationships on a global stage.

Described by University of Bristol as “world-renowned African mathematician” and “a trailblazing academic leader”, Phakeng holds an honorary doctorate at the university. Bristol is a top 10 UK university and is ranked 58th in the world.

Phakeng was invited to undertake the inaugural position in recognition of her work in mathematics education and university leadership in post-apartheid South Africa.

The year-long appointment will feature a series of public lectures open to all online and everyone can watch the virtual launch event on Wednesday, October 20, when Phakeng will be officially welcomed by Professor Hugh Brady, Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor and President, and Professor Judith Squires, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

“Being appointed as the first Illustrious Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol is a great honour, not only for me on a personal level, but also for African scholarship. It’s an opportunity to share from the work I have done in multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa,” Phakeng said.

“On a much wider scale, I believe this appointment will also strengthen the relationship between two great institutions of higher learning. The landscape of education around the world, and more specifically the landscape of leadership in higher education, has changed a great deal in recent years and will change even more in the near future. I hope this new relationship will offer opportunities for me to share with my colleagues in Bristol from my own leadership journey. And I am excited to learn from them in turn.”

Phakeng has broken new ground in a range of prestigious positions, including being elected as the first woman President of the Convocation of the University of the Witwatersrand, where she holds a PhD in mathematics education, leading the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) as its first woman national president, and being the first black South African researcher to be appointed to co-chair a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

Last year she featured in Forbes’ list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa.

Bristol Vice-Chancellor and President, Brady, said: “The University of Bristol is delighted and honoured to welcome Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng as our first Bristol Illustrious Visiting Professor. She has established herself as an inspirational figure in maths education and university leadership in South Africa. I have already had the great pleasure of working closely with Professor Phakeng on our important Bristol-UCT Strategic Partnership and as members of the Worldwide Universities Network. It will be exciting to have our entire community benefit from Mamokgethi's expertise, energy and vision over the year ahead.”

Cape Times

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