By | July 12, 2021

On 1st June 2021 the University of Fort Hare (UFH) welcomed a highly accomplished intellectual, Dr Oscar van Heerden who joined the institution as its new Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support (DVC-IS).

He joined the UFH from Stellenbosch University where he held the role of Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Faculty of Military Sciences.

Dr van Heerden holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, both in International Relations. His intellectual interests are in international political economy with an emphasis on Africa and SADC in particular. He is the author of two single-authored books, Consistent or Confused? The politics of Mbeki’s foreign policy 1995-2007, with Jacana Media (Staging Post) and Two Minutes to Midnight: Will Ramaphosa’s ANC survive? also from Jacana. He is a public intellectual and a regular contributor in the Daily Maverick publication.

He serves on the Councils of two other higher education institutions – the University of Venda and East Midlands TVET College.

Exactly one month into his new role, Dr van Heerden took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to share with This Week @Fort Hare a bit about himself and his plans for his portfolio.

Please share a bit about your professional background?

My professional background is why I felt comfortable applying for this position at UFH. In large parts, but not exclusively, my new role involves stakeholder management – internally and externally.

 I have occupied a number of executive roles over the years. This includes the ANC Head Office (Luthuli House) in Johannesburg back when it was still Shell House in the late 1990s.  I then worked at the South African Qualifications Authority and moved to Management Consulting in one of my own companies. Thereafter, I joined Local Government where I worked in various professional capacities in the City of Johannesburg in one of its entities, Parks and Zoo.

From there onwards I joined the University of Johannesburg as an Executive Director for Internationalisation, looking particularly at the international portfolio of the university. I then worked for Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (Mistra) – an independent think tank that takes a long-term view on the strategic challenges facing South Africa, the continent and the globe.  Most recently I was with Stellenbosch University.

My portfolio centres on strategy and stakeholder management, both areas I am familiar with, having been active in student and youth organizations and various civil society structures. I have acquired a skill set that works very well with stakeholders such as organized labour and student structures such as the SRC (Student Representative Council) as well as inter-governmental relations.