Photo: Mariki Uitenweerde

Tawana Kupe

University of Pretoria

Tawana Kupe was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria in January 2019.

Prior to this appointment, he held several senior positions at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), including his role as vice-principal responsible for the day-to-day operations of the University. Before that, he was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for advancement, human resources and transformation. He also served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for finance and operations, and was executive dean of the Wits Faculty of Humanities.

Kupe was the founding Head of the Media Studies Department at Wits University. He also lectured at Rhodes University, where he briefly acted as head of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies.

Prior to his tenure at Rhodes, he worked in various academic capacities at the University of Zimbabwe, including as chairperson of the Department of English, Media and Communication Studies.

Kupe holds a BA honours degree and a Master’s in English from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo in Norway. In December 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in humanities by Michigan State University.

In 2020, he was selected as an International Council member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, and will hold the position until 2024. The association supports and develops media and communication research throughout the world, and encourages the participation of emerging scholars, women and those from economically disadvantaged regions.

Kupe is an active member of several civil society organisations, including the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, and, since 2005, has been chairman of the board of Media Monitoring Africa, which is dedicated to media accountability and promoting the role of the media as an integral institution to sustaining democracy.

Kupe is also a council member and trustee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, an international organisation dedicated to bringing together universities from around the world to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds and improve lives.

He has a notable publication record, having authored journal articles, books and book chapters in his main discipline, media studies and journalism. He edited the book ‘Broadcasting Policy and Regulation in Africa’, as well as ‘Go Home or Die Here’ with two Wits University academics, Eric Worby and Shireen Hassim.

Kupe is a popular invited speaker, academic expert and regular commentator on issues of media performance on radio, television and print for local and international media. He has also been a columnist for several newspapers and magazines in South Africa.

In January 2021, he was appointed as a member of council for the National Advisory Council on Innovation, and will hold the appointment until September 2022. The following month, he became a member of the advisory committee for the South African SDG Policy Support Initiative. Since February 2021, he has been a member of the advisory board for the Global Handbooks in Media and Communication Research Series.