Zimbabwean-born University of Pretoria (UP) Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe has unexpectedly resigned – six months before the end of his tenure.

Kupe, who has worked at Rhodes,
Witwatersrand and UP, leaves the university on 31 July, six months before his term was due to end in January 2024.
UP council chair Kuseni Dlamini said in a communication to staff Kupe is going and a search for a replacement starts immediately, starting with an interim measure.

“While the process to find his successor will begin immediately, appropriate interim arrangements that will help facilitate the smooth functioning of the institution will be put in place,” he said.

“We all remain committed to upholding the university’s mission, values, and long-term objectives and will work tirelessly to maintain our momentum.”
Kupe was appointed UP boss on 14 January 2019.

At the time, he said: “It is an honour and privilege to take over the reins at this proud institution at such a key moment in South African and global history”.

That followed the resignation of former Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, who took over as head of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Kupe holds BA Honours and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo in Norway.

He lectured at Rhodes University and served as Executive Dean of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Faculty of Humanities for six years after serving as the Head of the then Wits School of Literature and Language Studies.

He was also the founding Head of the Media Studies Department.
Kupe is an expert and strong voice on media studies and society, as well as journalism practice.

On 1 June, UP announced that it had improved its position in the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, rising to position 69 (up from the 101-200 band in 2022) out of 1 705 universities in 115 countries.

UP is also ranked in the Top 20 universities in the world for two SDGs.
“Once again, UP has proved to be one of the leading universities not only in Africa but also in the world for impact towards the SDGs,” said Kupe who leaves behind a great administration track record at one of Africa’s top universities.