Lehohla, Terreblanche awarded honorary degrees at Maties

2015-12-10 20:58
(Tammy Petersen, News24)

(Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - They were not new to graduation ceremonies, but the beaming smiles of veteran political economist and academic Professor Sampie Terreblanche and statistician-general Pali Lehohla rivaled those of hundreds of graduates who received their first degrees and diplomas at Stellenbosch University (SU).

Terreblanche and Lehohla were awarded with honorary doctorates.

"To be here is an honour and to receive this along with respected individuals is an amazing experience," Lehohla said after the ceremony.

According to the university, Lehohla was honoured with a doctor of commerce degree for his "innovative leadership and ingenious contribution to enhance Statistics SA’s internal capacity as well as statistics policy and utilisation in Africa, and for his special focus on the development of human capital".

Lehohla, the country’s statistician general for the past 15 years, has made his mark as a skilled innovator in his field of expertise, his citation read.

"Upon appointment to this office, Lehohla set himself the task of drastically improving Statistics SA officials’ skills in generating and using statistics. This has seen the forging of innovative partnerships with various higher-education institutions."

Lehohla initiated the SU Centre for Regional and Urban Innovation and Statistical Exploration (Cruise) and has subsidised summer and winter schools at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

He also helped create the African Centre for Analysis of Population at the University of Pennsylvania and established winter schools along with the University of Michigan.

"In the process, he has facilitated the upskilling of his staff [in terms of poverty], labour dynamics and demographic studies as well as survey methodologies. He has also helped improve the state of official statistics in the rest of Africa and the world."

His name, the university said, had "become synonymous with unlocking data along with the human talent behind it".

A modest Lehohla said hearing the citation helped him "remember some of the things [he] did".

"It’s really a great moment. Life without reflection is not useful. This is a moment of major reflection," he said.

"I come from Lesotho and being honoured in a country not my country of birth is very special."

'Inspiring lecturer'

Terreblanche, 82, who shared the special day with his granddaughter who also graduated at Maties, recalled first walking on the campus in 1951 as a first-year student.

"My relationship with this institution spans 56 years," he said.

According to the citation, Terreblanche was given a doctor of commerce degree for his "outstanding contributions as profound analyst of Western socio-economic systems; his emphasis on social amelioration for all in multiple leading publications; his fearless advocacy for the end of apartheid in South Africa and his lasting impact on many an economics student as inspiring lecturer".

"Many prominent economists have ascribed their success to this innovative thinker and beloved professor. With his distinctively vibrant lecturing style, 'Prof Sampie' has truly achieved legendary status at SU," the audience heard.

Terreblanche was a member of the then Commission of Enquiry into Matters Relating to the Coloured Population Group – the Erika Theron Commission – where he became "deeply affected by the problem of structural poverty".

"This became a constant influence on his views of South Africa’s political economy, manifesting numerous publications including 12 books and over 30 articles and book chapters. Even academic colleagues of dissenting views acknowledge the outstanding quality of his work."

He was lauded for his contribution to political transformation among other things.

Terreblanche said he has taught "fathers, mothers, their children and their grandchildren".

"The number of students I have lectured are between 30 000 and 40 000," he said.

Terreblanche described receiving an honorary doctorate as "unbelievable".

Both said they would celebrate the achievement with their families, some of whom flew to Cape Town to witness the ceremony.

Read more on:    pali lehohla  |  education

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