Brian O’Connell to speak on latest initiatives between the university and UWC to strengthen food security, preserve South Africa’s apartheid historical artifacts
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The rector of South Africa’s University of Western Cape (UWC), which has maintained a rich and meaningful 28-year partnership with the University of Missouri that has spanned the fall of apartheid to the building of a new democracy, will be in Columbia today to meet with UM President Tim Wolfe, MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin and other MU campus officials. Rector Brian O’Connell will be giving a videotaped interview to Rod Uphoff, Director of the University’s South Africa Education Program, after which he will be available for additional media interviews.
Mr. O’Connell will be available for media interviews this afternoon outside the Edom Photo Lab room in Lee Hills Hall on the MU campus, starting at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The partnership between the University of Missouri and UWC dates to 1986, when the Board of Curators as part of the adoption of its South Africa Divestment Policy, formed and charged the South African Education Program Committee to partner with one South African university to aid those disadvantaged by apartheid. UM System President C. Peter McGrath and UWC Rector Jakes Gerwell signed a formal memorandum of academic cooperation, which was the first such agreement between a non-white South African university and a U.S. university. The UM/UWC partnership was created to advance capacity in teaching, research and service.
“Our historic partnership with the University of Western Cape has been a spectacular success, promoting collaborations in teaching, research and service to the mutual benefit of both institutions and the broader community each serves,” said President Wolfe. “Mr. O’Connell has spoken around the world about how our partnership is the unprecedented model for such agreements, and we are thrilled to have him here to visit our four campuses.”
After visiting MU today, O’Connell, who holds an honorary degree from the university, will be visiting the system’s other three campuses in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla, and will also speak at the next Board of Curator’s meeting at Missouri S&T on April 10.
“We have watched with pride while the University of Western Cape has grown from its humble, under-resourced beginnings to become one of Africa’s leading universities, and our longtime partnership with the University of Missouri has played a significant role in that growth,” O’Connell said. “We look forward to using our unique relationship to continue to work together to address critical issues for sustainable democracies around the world.”
Two of the latest initiatives that Mr. O’Connell will address in his visit include strengthening food security and health research in South Africa and other African nations, with strategies that can be duplicated in other nations around the world; and a project to preserve and digitize the Mayibuye Archives, a vast multi-media collection of historical artifacts that document the campaign in South Africa and around the world by Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters to bring down the apartheid regime.