University of Cape Town. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
University of Cape Town. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Your article (UCT in race row over academic’s appointment, March 2) included two allegations by members of the Black Academic Caucus (BAC), but did not afford the University of Cape Town (UCT) an opportunity to respond prior to publication. The first was that the decision to appoint the deputy vice-chancellor: teaching and learning was based on "racism", and the second that Associate Prof Lis Lange "does not meet the requirements". While we were contacted for comment, these two claims were not put to the university for a response.

On the claim that this was a racist appointment, the principle of selecting a black candidate over a white candidate using race as the criterion assumes that both candidates bring broadly the same expertise and are suitable for the post.

This was not the case in this appointment. Only one candidate was considered appointable by the selection committee.

The BAC’s argument also assumes that a white person cannot drive a transformation agenda. We reject this view, and in this particular case Prof Lange has years of experience in transformation at other universities and across the sector as a whole.

In response to the claim that Prof Lange did not meet the requirements, the BAC appears to believe that the selection committee’s decision on the appointability of candidates for the position relied on the candidates’ title. This is not the case: professorship was not a condition. The selection committee took careful, holistic consideration of the scope and depth of each candidate’s active leadership experience; years of involvement in a position of authority in the higher-education sector, especially with regard to teaching and learning; and overall suitability for the demands of such a position at UCT. Only one candidate demonstrated this suitability.

Please also note that your publication incorrectly spelled the name and surname of Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng as well as my surname.

Elijah Moholola
Manager: media liaison and social media, UCT