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).
A text message has made my whole year! Prof Phakeng, my friend, my mother and role model is officially the Vice Chancellor and Principal of UCT! Hallelujah Bazalwane!— Christo (@ChristoThurston) March 17, 2018
Congrats to the most awesome Mzalwane in the whole wide world! #ProfPhakeng #UCTVC #UCT pic.twitter.com/EfAfEsTRCZ
And so the highest decision making body of UCT, the university council has this afternoon confirmed Prof Phankeng as the VC of University of Cape Town effective from 1 July 2018. Best news ever. The future remains black, female and excellent. We can official celebrate 🎉🍾 pic.twitter.com/HxAQapW8NH— Tebogo_Thothela (@PrezSankara) March 17, 2018
"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).
#WelcomeVCElect "I am honoured to have been afforded an opportunity to lead one of the best institutions on the continent. I am particularly humbled by the overwhelming support that I have received within the university community." - Professor Phakeng pic.twitter.com/KVKgqLOCZY— UCT (@UCT_news) March 17, 2018
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!