Prof Wim de Villiers, Dean of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences, was appointed the new Maties Rector and Vice-Chancellor by the Stellenbosch University (SU) Council earlier today.
De Villiers (55), a Matie alumnus and medical doctor who studied and worked in England and America for 21 years, succeeds Prof Russel Botman, who passed away unexpectedly in June. He becomes the University’s 12th rector (although the title of this post has changed a number of times through the years). He will take office in 2015, but the exact date is not known yet [1 April has since been confirmed]. In the meantime, Chief Operating Officer Prof Leopoldt Van Huyssteen will stay on as acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor.
“I feel honoured and am very thankful for this opportunity,” De Villiers said about his appointment. “Stellenbosch is a jewel in the crown of higher education in South Africa, and with the right leadership and good teamwork we can reach new heights, both locally and internationally.”
Mr George Steyn, Chairperson of the SU Council, said De Villiers’s appointment heralds a new era for the University. “We are looking forward to Prof De Villiers breaking new ground – also in the run-up to our centenary in 2018. Not only is he an excellent academic and manager, but he has the necessary insight and vision to be a worthy successor to Prof Botman.”
De Villiers was “born and bred in Stellenbosch”, the youngest child of the late Prof AB de Villiers, who would later become Dean of Law at SU, and Mrs Gera de Villiers (née Klomp) of Kroonstad. He matriculated from Paul Roos Gymnasium in 1977 with top marks in the then Cape Province, and passed his MBChB at SU cum laude. He received the Francie Van Zijl and Chancellor’s medals for academic achievement.
He decided to “spread his wings” and obtained a DPhil in Immunology at Oxford University, England, in 1995. He then went to America to gain more experience – at the University of Kentucky Medical Centre in Lexington. He later also obtained a master’s degree in health-care management from Harvard University.
“I thought I would stay for 18 months, but it turned out to be 18 years! It was worthwhile, though.”
In the USA De Villiers practised as a gastroenterologist and also established himself as a respected researcher in this field. He was included in the publication Best Doctors in America, and held a number of senior positions at the University of Kentucky, including Head of Gastroenterology, and Administrative Head in the UK HealthCare organisation with an annual budget of more than $1,2 billion.
“Then the pull of the fatherland became too strong to resist,” and he accepted the dean’s post in Cape Town in July 2013. Now he is looking forward to the next chapter in his career. Read more