In defence of Wits v-c 1

January 17, 2003

The alleged unanimous statement about my departure as vice-chancellor of Wi****ersrand University to which Wits registrar D. K. Swemmer referred (Letters, THES , January 10) was nothing of the sort.

Deep anger has been expressed by members of the Wits council, senate and students' representative council that this statement was released in their name. I understand that a significant number of council members objected to this statement appearing as a council document, which is why it appears largely as unattributed "information". Only a handful of Wits' 230 senate members and the 15 SRC members saw the statement before its distribution.

The statement is part of an orchestrated campaign of publicising unsubstantiated allegations by a handful of people after my resignation.

These actions have brought shame to Wits. I am the third senior executive to undergo the "Wits experience" recently. A top political columnist here, in a satirical new year's honours list, awarded "the Wits Council Abattoir" life membership of the Society of Malevolent Academics for its "humane slaughter" of its most recent v-c.

The latest Wits coup has been received with incredulity in the context of record student numbers, record fundraising, unprecedented stability and the accolade that Wits was "well managed" by a government evaluation of higher education during my tenure.

Norma Reid Birley
Johannesburg

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