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Nelson Mandela University has appointed human rights activist and eminent scholar, Professor André Keet, as its new Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Engagement and Transformation.

Prof Keet has been acting in this role since the University approved the creation of this new post as part of the 2019 institution-wide Organisational Redesign project undertaken last year to further align its structures and processes with its strategic priorities. The University's focus on Engagement and transformation have become a key focus of the University, as it further advances its key character as a university in service of society.

As the University’s first Chair: Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) and with a wealth of practical and scholarly experience in the field, Prof Keet is eminently qualified to drive the new portfolio, as one of four Deputy Vice-Chancellors.

“As reaffirmed by the implications of COVID-19, engagement at our University and across the national and global higher education system, needs to be re-imagined within the context of a responsive, responsible and transformative university.

“Such re-invention requires us to be courageous in perpetually undoing and reconstituting ourselves along social justice lines for the transformative/responsive university to take shape,” says Prof Keet.

“It is to the University’s credit that we, with renewed energy, have been working at it for the past two years, steered by a collective vision under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa and the Council.

“I am grateful to be part of this and am particularly encouraged by the way that the entire university community has responded to these strategic redirections.”

Prof Keet has made a hugely positive impact in the three short years since joining the University; with the establishment of the Hubs of Convergence, the Transdisciplinary Institute for Mandela Studies (TIMS), and offering guidance during the development of the Centre for Women and Gender Studies. All these are anchored in the institution’s resolve towards meaningfully grappling with the complex societal challenges of our time, while also working to foster an inclusive, transformative institutional culture that promotes social solidarity and cohesion.

Prof Keet has had an exemplary career in both the public and higher education sectors.

He is a former Visiting Professor at the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom and the 2018 Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. He completed two terms on the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation in the South African Public Universities, one as its Chairperson. He currently serves as a member of the Ministerial Panel that is conducting an independent strategic evaluation of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).

Prof Keet joined and assisted in setting up the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in post-Apartheid South Africa in 1996. He later became the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the SAHRC; and on a unanimous recommendation from Parliament, he was appointed to the Commission for Gender Equality in 2008. His vocation, during this time, was deepening democracy, the advancement of social justice and the promotion and protection of human rights; whilst teaching part-time and by invitation at universities across the country.

Following his career in the public sector, Prof Keet entered higher education on a full-time basis in October 2008 when he became the Director of the Transdisciplinary Programme at the University of Fort Hare.

His first professorial appointment was as an adjunct-professor at the University of Pretoria in 2009; followed by professorial assignments at the University of Fort Hare in 2010 and the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2011.

He joined Nelson Mandela University in October 2017, and was awarded full professorship the following year, during which he delivered his inaugural on university transformation.

In addition to serving as Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) in 2011-2017) at the UFS, Prof Keet was also appointed as advisor to the Rectorate and acted as the institution’s Vice-Rector: Student Affairs and External Relations.

He is a productive scholar and academic citizen. His outputs range from articles and chapters, to journal and book editorships.  He is a frequently requested speaker, nationally and internationally. His past and present postgraduate and research programmes focus on human rights, higher education transformation, and critical university studies. 

He recently teamed up with Michael Cross from the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education at the University of Johannesburg as joint commissioning editors of two book series on higher education transformation.


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Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777