19/03/2018 16:31 SAST | Updated 19/03/2018 18:50 SAST

Here's Why Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng Is The Fab Academic

Phakeng is the new vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
Lucky Nxumalo/ City Press/ Gallo Images
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has got to be one of the most loved academics in the country. @FabAcademic, as she calls herself on social media, is a well-established professor and researcher in mathematics education who has stolen the hearts of many young South Africans with her vibrant personality and wit.

It's no wonder congratulatory messages came pouring in, after the announcement over the weekend that she has been appointed the new vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT).

"There was a clear recognition that this is somebody who attests to have achieved excellence under very difficult and trying circumstances," UCT council chair Sipho Pityana said after Phakeng had been officially appointed. "Her rising to this point must be an inspiration to many who might think it impossible to get there because of their background."

Phakeng holds a BSc in pure mathematics from the University of North-West and earned her MSc and PhD in mathematics education at Wits University.

She then went on to serve as president of convocation at Wits for five years.

Phakeng joined UCT in July 2016 and took over from Professor Danie Visser as the deputy vice-chancellor of research and internationalisation.

Before moving to UCT in 2016, she was vice-chancellor of research and innovation at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Her long list of achievements includes winning numerous awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred on her by the president of South Africa in April 2016.

Phakeng is the founder of the Adopt-a-learner trust, a nonprofit organisation that provides financial support to learners from townships and rural areas to acquire higher-education qualifications.

The prof. starts her new job in July. Phakama phakama mbokodo!