Meet Unisa’s first female vice

Meet Unisa’s first female vice-chancellor, Prof Puleng LenkaBula

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education has welcomed Professor LenkaBula’s appointment as Unisa’s vice-chancellor and said it was a step in the right direction

Meet Unisa’s first female vice

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has appointed Professor Puleng LenkaBula as its incoming principal and vice-chancellor.

LenkaBula is the first woman to head the institution in its 148-year-long existence. She is expected to report for duty in January 2021, replacing outgoing Vice Chancellor Mandla Makhanya.

She is currently the Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs and Community Engagement at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The unanimous decision to appoint LenkaBula was made by the Unisa Council, which 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).

Before joining UFS, LenkaBula was the Dean of Students at the University of Witwatersrand, where she was a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office (VCO) and the senior executive team.

LenkaBula has also previously held management positions at different institutions of higher learning, including at Unisa, where she had a successful stint as Dean of Students.

Chairperson of the Unisa Council, Sakhi Simelane, said the appointment of LenkaBula is further testimony of the commitment of the council to the transformation project it introduced and drove relentlessly in the university over the years.

“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,” Simelane said.

“In Professor LenkaBula, we have appointed the right calibre 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,”

‘Transformation in higher education sector is slow’ – Portfolio Committee chairperson

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has commended LenkaBula’s appointment, saying it is a milestone towards addressing gender transformation in the higher education and training sector.

“We celebrate this indeed. It took the university 148 years to appoint a female as the VC. This shows that the pace of transformation in the sector, especially at senior management level, is very slow,” said committee chairperson Philly Mapulane.

 “Gender transformation is critical to the development of the country, the African continent and the global community in creating a sustainable world. We congratulate the UNISA Council for taking such a bold step in addressing the underrepresentation of women in the higher echelons of the university,”