“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (African proverb)
28 Aug 2018 - 11:30
“It is my wish that everyone in the Faculty is part of this necessary and exciting movement to create a university which is sensitive to and affirms diversity, promotes reconciliation and respect for human life and the environment.” So says Alison September of her vision as Chairperson of the Faculty of Health Sciences Transformation and Employment Committee (TEC).
“We are moving towards creating and promoting a UCT climate where all persons are valued and developed in order to realise their full potential and to function in a way which is responsible and accountable to the community.”
She explains that the committee’s activities aim at being inclusive and engaging in their efforts to change the institutional climate within the Faculty. FHS TEC members have spearheaded a host of transformation activities to promote inclusivity, transparency, student and staff engagement, such as, amongst others, drafting the proposal for a new Faculty Board membership, participating in the curriculum change working groups (CCWG), engaging with the undergraduate and postgraduate student demands, supporting committees such as the UCT’s Higher Education Access Response Team, Faculty’s Teaching and Learning Committee, The Mental Health Working Group, and the ad hominem promotions process. The positioning of these difficult conversations have been facilitated and inspired by the leadership of Prof Bongani Mayosi and going forward we will continue to honour his legacy of leading by example through “lift as you rise”.
“The TEC has facilitated the recruitment of more than 30 employees as part of our support to employment equity within the Faculty and we thank all the Employment Equity Representatives in these processes,” says Alison.
Departmental transformation committees have actively been involved in transformation roadshows and conversations centred on promoting individual and collective experiences around the UCT climate in an attempt to promote inclusivity and a culture of sharing and belonging.
“We are pleased with the participation of Faculty members, but we need more robust and greater ownership of the process,” she says.
Alison, a molecular geneticist in the Department of Human Biology recently honoured with the title of “Fellow of the European College of Sport Science”, was elected as the new chairperson of the TEC in 2017. In quieter times, she can be found in the laboratories at the Sports Science Institute, Newlands, where she leads a highly productive research team.
Recently Dr Marc Hendricks, a paediatric oncologist at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and current chair of the Transformation Advisory Group for the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, was elected as the Deputy Chairperson.
“We would like this template to be adopted by all other Faculty committees to prevent a cycle of either membership and/ or leadership monopoly as we believe succession planning to be an intrinsic part of transformed thinking and practice,” says Alison of the TEC’s approach to governance.
The TEC builds on the foundations of its predecessors and the previous chair, Professor Collet Dandara and team, comprised of all Departmental TEC Chairs. Refining its governance structure to make it more representative and improve communication efficiency was a priority.
“The TEC refined its Terms of Reference (TOR), to which our leadership strictly adheres,” says Alison firmly. In early 2017, Faculty Transformation Framework was launched. At the same time, the committee redesigned its membership constitution. This new membership allows for improved all round communication in the Faculty, including FHS leadership (Dean and the Dean’s Management Committtee), individual Departments, staff members and students on issues related to transformation.
The dynamic duo at the helm of the TEC bring a wonderful energy to the committee, with new ideas for making an impact in the Faculty.
“In April, we invited Mrs Marlene Le Roux, Artscape CEO and recent recipient of a masters degree in disability studies from UCT, to engage us on privilege, the rights of women and the disabled,” says Alison.
Guest speaker for the Youth Day commemoration in June, Prof Elelwani Ramugondo reframed the events of June 16th, 1976, emphasising the significance of that day in the evolution of our emancipation as a country and giving an untold perspective on the events which preceded and followed the 16th June. Both speakers highlighted the theme of respect and dignity: “the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect”.
“Exciting plans are underway to commemorate Heritage Day,” adds Marc, “but we can, of course, only share these once finalised.”
The TEC has reflected on the past year, says Alison, and has seen that in order to shift the institutional environment, there is a need to strengthen transformation programs. To enable this, it is committed to focusing its efforts on harnessing collective resources at a Unit, Departmental, Faculty and University level.
“We know that through increased investment (money and effort), ongoing engagement and broadened participation will we be on a firm path towards change.”