Donors, alumni thanked by university

14 May 2019 - 12:00
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng (left) enjoys a moment with guests at the UCT donor- and alumni-recognition event in Johannesburg on 6 May.

UCT’s donors and alumni joined Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng in Johannesburg on 6 May, with Phakeng conveying the university’s gratitude for their invaluable contributions to its operations.

The packed event, arranged by UCT’s Development and Alumni Department (DAD) and held at the Graduate School of Business’s Sandton campus, was attended by major corporate donors, individual donors and members of Convocation.

DAD is responsible for raising, processing, and stewarding donations from a wide community of individuals, corporates, and foundations. It also serves as the link between our current and past community of students through regular events and updates of campus life.

Guests were treated to live music, courtesy South African College of Music alumnus Lee-Anne Fortuin.

Phakeng outlined some of the key areas at the university that were benefitting from donor funding and lauded the South African public and private sectors for investing in higher education.

“It is encouraging to note that there is almost an even split between national (49%) and international donations (51%), demonstrating the support that the university still enjoys on a global scale and the confidence that local donors have in our university,” she said.

It was noteworthy, Phakeng added, that the Department of Student Affairs received the highest percentage of total donations in 2018: 25%, or R91 million. Most of these funds went to student financial aid – including historic debt relief – and the critical area of student wellness.

This was important, considering the backdrop of national concerns about the affordability of university studies for many students, said Phakeng.

It was also heartening, said Phakeng, that UCT’s Humanities faculty bucked the funding trend of favouring the health sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields to scoop the biggest share of donations on the academic side. The faculty received R70 million or 19% of total donations.

Last year saw R404 million worth of donations receipted, up from R369 million in 2017.

“So far this year we have received nearly R110 million in donations,” said Phakeng. “It’s a good start, but we always need more support, and from more people.

“These good results are a tribute to our standing as the leading university on the continent and indicative of the high regard in which UCT’s scholarship, research, teaching and learning is held.”

Project leaders from the faculties who cultivated strong relationships with funders deserve massive credit, said the VC.

“Another major highlight of our fundraising efforts has been that our overall endowment grew by R16 million, which can to a large degree be attributed to the Distinguishing UCT Campaign (DUCT), a campaign aimed at growing the university’s unrestricted endowment fund,” said Phakeng.

“Since 2015, we have been actively fundraising for this campaign to strengthen unrestricted endowment by a further R500 million; the number of donors to the campaign has now grown to 394, while the current value of the unrestricted endowment has grown from R500 million to R676 million. Our goal is to grow it to one billion rand by the end of the year.”

Phakeng closed with a rousing call for contributions to DUCT: “I would like to encourage all of you to make a once-off donation to the campaign tonight to successfully close it off for us.”