Professor Elelwani Ramugondo was recently appointed as Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for Transformation, Student Affairs and Social Responsiveness at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She will assume this role officially from 1st July 2022. Currently, she holds the position of Deputy Dean for Postgraduate Education at the Faculty of Health Sciences (UCT). She obtained all her qualifications from UCT. As a newly qualified occupational therapist (O.T), she established the first Occupational Therapy (O.T) Department at Tshilidzini Special School, Limpopo Province, South Africa. She returned to UCT as an academic in 1998, having served as an O.T in rural South Africa and the United States of America.
Elelwani’s work at UCT over the past twenty-three years has focussed on leading with integrity, recognising this to be pivotal in advancing transformation and excellence as interdependent and interlinked concepts. She is the founding member of the UCT Black Academic Caucus, has been its Vice-Chairperson, and a member of its Executive Committee until recently. She served three years as a warden within UCTs Student Housing and Residence Life. From July 2016 to July 2020, she was a member of the UCT Council. She has also served as Chair of UCT’s Academic Freedom Committee, which hosted five successful TB Davie lectures under her leadership. She is the current member of the Advisory Board for UCT’s African Gender Institute.
As Head of Division for O.T, Elelwani led a division which became the most diverse O.T program both nationally and internationally in terms of its staff and students. During this time, she also spearheaded curriculum transformation, aimed towards a graduate profile that is responsive to the local context while being globally competitive.
Elelwani’s decolonial approach to teaching and convening postgraduate courses has received international recognition, leading to numerous invitations to lead symposia for postgraduate students and faculty in South America, the United Kingdom, and South America. She is often invited to give keynote addresses on transforming higher education or decolonising the academy, both nationally and abroad. She convened the Inaugural UCT Decolonial Summer School, and is a regular speaker at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Decolonial Summer School.
Elelwani was appointed Special Advisor on Transformation to the Vice Chancellor at UCT in 2015, in response to the student-led Rhodes Must Fall movement’s call for decolonisation. She later became a member of the Strategic Executive Task Team, during one of the most tumultuous times in the university’s history. In these roles she participated in complex, highly charged, faculty-based and institution-wide dialogues on decolonisation and decoloniality. She was instrumental in crafting the UCT Curriculum Change Framework, which is centred on decoloniality, and was released to the public in June 2018.
Elelwani has served on numerous boards for Non-Governmental Organisations, including Kidzpositive, which was the first to facilitate access to Anti-Retroviral Treatment for children born with HIV. She is currently the Chair of the Rhodes Scholarship Western and Northern Cape Selection Committee.