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Rector and Vice-Chancellor

Stellenbosch, Cape Town Metro (ZA)
Closing date
26 Jun 2024

Job Details

Stellenbosch University is inviting applications from visionary, inspiring, authentic, engaging, and accessible leaders for the role of Rector and Vice-Chancellor.

Stellenbosch University’s Vision 2040 is to be Africa’s leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive, and innovative where it advances knowledge in service of society. With this Vision, Stellenbosch University (SU) embraces its transformation journey as highlighted in its Restitution Statement. In advancing Vision 2040, SU seeks to appoint a Rector and Vice-Chancellor with a strong grasp of the pressures and opportunities facing higher education institutions globally and particularly in South Africa, a compelling perspective on what it would take for SU to thrive, and a track record of implementing fundamental change in complex spaces.

Further information about SU including its strategic positioning for the 21st Century and the proposed Timeline for the appointment of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor can be found at:

Duties and responsibilities:

  • The Rector and Vice-Chancellor is the principal, chief executive, accounting officer and academic leader of the University, and is accountable for the management and administration of the University as well as for additional responsibilities delegated by the University Council.
  • The Rector and Vice-Chancellor reports to the University Council and is responsible for the management of the Rectorate and all other direct reports.
  • The Rector and Vice-Chancellor assumes overarching responsibility for:
    • providing academic leadership;
    • establishing, maintaining, and achieving the vision, strategy, and values of the University;
    • managing the University to ensure that it is locally and globally competitive, financially sustainable, and environmentally and socially responsible;
    • steering the University’s transformation journey;
    • implementing the University’s strategic, change, and operational initiatives;
    • facilitating and promoting external fundraising;
    • facilitating and managing sound policies and practices for the functioning of the University;
    • establishing, maintaining, and promoting sound relations with staff and students and with key stakeholders nationally and internationally;
    • identifying and managing the strategic and operational risks to which the University may be exposed; and 
    • ensuring local, regional, and international participation by the University.


  • Recognised academic standing as a Professor or eligibility for appointment to the rank of Professor.
  • Proven leadership in a key research environment.
  • Proven understanding and appreciation of the pressures and opportunities in the higher education sector, locally and globally.
  • An empathetic understanding of the impact of past and present political and socio-economic realities on SU.
  • Evidence of a sound business sense and grasp of the drivers of financial sustainability of higher education institutions and of SU in particular.
  • Track record of visionary, morally courageous, innovative, and strategic leadership, and commitment to excellence in a relevant environment of scale and complexity.
  • An inspiring, values driven, socially conscious, accessible, engaged, calm and empathetic leader who has successfully developed and overseen the implementation of fundamental change in complex spaces.
  • An authentic commitment to and track record of implementing transformation.
  • A track record of strong stakeholder management, locally and internationally.
  • Experience in donor fundraising stewardship.
  • Proven embrace and appreciation of technology and innovation.
  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills, embracing and functioning effectively in a multicultural and multilingual environment where English and Afrikaans are the primary languages of learning and teaching, and isiXhosa is an emerging academic language.

As part of the interview process, provisionally shortlisted candidates will be expected to deliver a short presentation to the Senior Appointments Committee. The topic of the presentation will be shared with the provisionally shortlisted candidates. Applicants on the final shortlist will be required to present to Senate and IF, and Council.

Term of Office: The appointment is for a five (5) year fixed term with the possibility of reappointment for a further term. Where applicable, a fallback option to the successful candidate’s academic department exists.

Commencement Date: 1 April 2025

Remuneration: A competitive remuneration package, approved by the University Council, is offered commensurate with similar positions in South African universities.

Closing Date for applications: 28 June 2024 at 17:00.

Enquiries: Please send enquiries to Heidrick & Struggles at

Complete applications, comprising the documentation as set out below, must be sent via email to before the closing date. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Documentation details (please ensure that your application includes all of the documents listed below):

A covering letter indicating how you meet the requirements. A comprehensive curriculum vitae. Your vision for SU. Details regarding present occupation, remuneration package and citizenship. Certified copies of qualifications and certificates. Details of at least five referees. Details about Stellenbosch University can be found in the Applicant Booklet: Rector and Vice-Chancellor at

By applying for the position, you acknowledge that you have read, understand, and accept that the recruitment, selection, and appointment process for the position will be conducted in accordance with the University’s Regulations for the Appointment and Reappointment of a Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and you affirm your commitment to adhere to the Regulations and to engage constructively in the selection process.

By applying for the position, you warrant that you have no prior employment disciplinary record nor any matters that the University should be made aware of (whether in relation to your academic or personal integrity or otherwise) which may influence its consideration of your application. Furthermore, you consent to any background checks relevant to your application on your academic background (including, but not limited to your qualifications and verification of your publications). You also consent to checks on your disciplinary record, criminal history, and insolvency status. By providing this consent, you understand that the University may verify the accuracy of the information provided in your application and that any discrepancies discovered may impact your candidacy for the position.

Candidates are required to provide a list of referees who can speak to their qualifications, experience, and suitability for the position of Rector and Vice-Chancellor. The Senior Appointments Committee may, at their discretion, contact referees listed by the applicants for additional information. In addition, to ensure a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process, the Senior Appointments Committee reserves the right to make inquiries with other relevant persons who are not listed as referees by the applicants, if deemed appropriate. Any such enquiries will be handled in a discreet and confidential manner.

Candidates may be required to make themselves available for extensive leadership assessments.

The University is committed to the advancement of diversity and to employment equity.

The University reserves the right not to make an appointment.

The University reserves the right to extend the closing date if deemed appropriate.


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