At a meeting of the Wits University Senate on 4 November 2021, the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, proposed the novel appointment of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Pro-VC) for Climate Sustainability and Inequality to lead the university in a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to addressing the challenge of climate sustainability and justice. The proposal was overwhelmingly supported.
Academics have explained that a "Pro-VC" is a senior strategic position often created in the Office of University VCs worldwide. The purpose of the position is to oversee and lead important strategic issues faced either internally or externally by a university, and to vest it with the authority of the VC's office.
The multidimensional climate crisis is one such issue.
As far back as 2011, UCT created a Pro-VC position on Climate Change. However, Wits will be the first university in South Africa to create such a position with the aim of considering the climate crisis holistically, taking into account both its social, economic and political dimensions.
Activists at Wits say the Pro-VC position is likely to have three components:
An internal administrative component looking at things like the university's investment strategy, carbon footprint etc;
A prong looking at the evolution of Wits' teaching and...