Members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, together with the five Executive Faculty Deans are responsible for managing the University on a daily basis. The Vice-Chancellor’s team comprises the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, four Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Registrar and the Chief Financial Officer.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Professor Adam Habib
Adam Habib is an academic, researcher, activist, administrator, and renowned political commentator and columnist.
A Professor of Political Science, Habib has over 30 years of academic, research and administration expertise, spanning five universities and multiple local and international institutions, boards and task teams. His professional involvement in institutions has always been defined by three distinct engagements: the contest of ideas, their translation into actionable initiatives, and the building of institutions.
Habib is currently the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He is also the Chair of Universities South Africa, which represents vice-chancellors and higher education in the country. In these roles, he has been working with government, students and other stakeholders to find solutions to the recent wave of protests around funding for higher education. He has also focused on building African research excellence, and together with the University of Cape Town, Wits initiated the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
Prior to joining Wits, Habib served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation, Library and Faculty Coordination at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He was instrumental in transforming UJ following the nationwide mergers of tertiary institutions in 2005 and played a key role in increasing research output. He also served as Research Director on Governance and Democracy, and Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council. He held several academic and research posts at the University of Natal, including Professor in the School of Development Studies and Research Director of the Centre for Civil Society.
Habib holds qualifications in Political Science from three universities, including the University of Natal and Wits. He earned his masters and doctoral qualifications from the Graduate School of the City University of New York.
Transformation, democracy and development are fundamental themes of his research. His latest book titled South Africa’s Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects has informed debates around the country’s transition into democracy, as well as its prospects for inclusive development.
Habib’s contributions recently resulted in his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in addition to serving as a fellow of both the African Academy of Science and the Academy of Science of South Africa.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic
Professor Andrew Crouch
Professor Andrew Crouch took leadership of the overall academic portfolio on 1 May 2013. He is responsible for teaching and learning, e-learning, strategic and academic planning. As such, the five Executive Deans report to him.
He joined Wits in 2009 as the Dean of the Faculty of Science, having served as the associate dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch (US) since 2006. His history with the University began when he joined the institution as a Professor of Chemistry in April 1999. He has extensive teaching experience in Chemistry at all levels, having taught at the Peninsula Technikon, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and various universities abroad. He established a Centre for Electrochemistry at UWC with industry support.
Crouch holds a BSc Honours degree in Chemistry from the University of the Western Cape and a PhD in Chemistry from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
He has more than 20 years research experience in environmental electrochemistry and its applications, being the author/co-author of more than 100 research papers and conference proceedings and one patent in the area of electrochemistry. He was also awarded the Ernst Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Fellowship and Gold Medal (1998) from the Anglo American Chairman's Fund.
He chaired the Natural Sciences, Engineering and Health Sciences Equity Forum at the US and served as a member of the University Forum and several Senate committees, amongst his other administrative duties.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Advancement, Transformation and Human Resources
Professor Ruksana Osman
Professor Ruksana Osman served as the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities for five years and as a Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand. Prior to her appointment as Dean she served as the Head of the School of Education.
She also serves as the Convenor of the UNESCO Research Chair in Teacher Education for Diversity and Development. Professor Osman has extensive teaching and research experience in the field of teacher education and higher education. She is an elected member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.
Her particular experience and expertise is in policy, pedagogy and students lived experiences of equity and access to higher education.
Professor Osman is widely published in the academic and popular press and has written, edited or co-edited several books and journal articles.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs
Professor Zeblon Vilakazi
Prof. Zeblon Zenzele Vilakazi joined Wits in January 2014 as the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs. He has brought a wealth of experience, insight and knowledge to Wits and the Executive Team, and is committed to increasing Wits' quantitative and qualitative research output over the next few years in line with Wits' strategic research plan.
Dr Vilakazi was appointed Group Executive for Research and Development at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) in 2011, while also serving as the director of iThemba LABS – a position he has held since January 2007. He also holds an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Physics at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
He obtained his PhD from Wits in 1998 under the supervision of the late Professor J Sellschop, who also served as DVC: Research at Wits. The title of his doctoral thesis is The Investigation of coherent correlated effects due to incidence of ultra-relativistic leptons on oriented crystalline matter. This was followed by a National Research Foundation post-doctoral fellowship at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.
He took up an academic post at UCT in 1999 where he was instrumental in establishing South Africa's first experimental high-energy physics research group focusing on development of the High-level Trigger for the CERN-ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He also served as a visiting scientist at the Atomic Energy Commission and Alternative Energy in Saclay, France.
Vilakazi also served as a chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Standing Advisory Committee on Nuclear Applications from 2009 to 2011. He is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee for Nuclear Physics at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia and a member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Working Group for Nuclear Physics. In 2010 he was nominated by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and is a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa. Vilakazi's research interests include heavy-ion collisions at ultra-relativistic energies and computational physics – in relation to GRID computing. He has more than 80 refereed articles in Nuclear and High Energy Physics and is a regular invitee for talks and presentations at conference and seminars.
Chief Operating Officer
Mr Fana Sibanyoni
Fana Sibanyoni joined Wits in November 2016 to take up the newly established position of Chief Operating Officer (COO).
The position was created to both consolidate and expand the role and activities of the University.
The COO provides strategic leadership and direction for the following portfolios: Computer and Network Services; Business Intelligence Services; Property and Infrastructure Management and Development; Campus Planning and Development; and Campus Security (also known as Campus Control). Additionally, the COO is responsible for relationship development and broad implementation of business plans and related projects within the divisions.
Sibanyoni’s experience places him in good stead to navigate this vast portfolio. He has more than 20 years of experience straddling engineering and facilities management.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the former University of Natal, an MBA from the University of Cape Town, and completed the highly challenging International Executive Development Programme at the Wits Business School.
Prior to joining Wits he was the National Head of Facilities Management at Growth Point Properties and has held executive positions at Absa, Telkom and Airports Company South Africa. He held various engineering roles at Tongaat- Hullet Sugar Limited, Dow Agroscience, Sentram and Sasol.
Sibanyoni is a member of several industry bodies including the Institute of Directors Southern Africa, the South African Facilities Management Association, the South African Property Owners Association and the Black Management Forum.
Ms Carol Crosley
Carol Crosley has been the Registrar of Wits University since June 2014.
Since starting at Wits in 1998, Crosley has held various positions. She is the former Deputy Registrar: Enrolment at the University, a position she held from May 2013. Before that, from 2001, she was the Deputy Registrar and Head of the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC), which she played a pivotal role in establishing.
As the Deputy Registrar and Head of SEnC she was responsible for all matters related to admission and enrolment at the University, including the overall management of SEnC, the Schools Liaison Office and the International Students Office. During this time she played an active role in championing the implementation of two student management systems.
Her prior positions at Wits include Faculty Assistant Registrar in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management (1991-2001). She also managed the public relations portfolio in the Vice-Chancellor's Office (1998-1999).
Crosley's passion has always been education – she was a high school teacher for 10 years: first at King Edward V11 School from 1983 to 1987; and then at Sandown High School from 1992 to 1997. Maintaining close contact with her colleagues in secondary education has proved to be advantageous to Wits as she has built up a strong network in both the private and public schooling arena as well as with other higher education institutions over the years. She completed her Masters degree in Education in 2013, with her research dissertation focussing on how students can bring about change in their school environment.
Chief Financial Officer
Mr Prakash Desai
Prakash Desai joined Wits as Chief Financial Officer in January 2017. He is a Chartered Accountant and holds BCom and BCom Honours in Accounting Science degrees. Desai has filled various leadership and strategic roles over a long career. He held executive positions at both local and global multinationals.
Prior to joining Wits, Desai worked in the financial sector as Chief Executive Officer of the Afrifocus Securities (Pty) Limited group. Before that he served as Group Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Group Financial Director at Times Media, Johncom and Avusa Limited respectively, and at the unlisted international Philips Group of Companies. Philips covered the technology, retail, marketing and manufacturing sectors.
Desai has also filled non-executive posts in the public and private sectors. He served on the Board of Caxton Publishers and Printers Ltd, a public listed company, from September 2000 to April 2007 and on its audit committee from February 2006 to April 2007. From June 2003 to November 2007 he served on the Board of M-Net/SuperSport and on its audit committee from June 2003 to November 2007. He is presently non-executive Chairman of Afrifocus Securities (Pty) Ltd.
In the university sector Desai has served as a member of the Board of the University of Witwatersrand Health Consortium (Pty) Ltd since May 2003. He chairs the audit and risk committee and the strategy and investment committee. He is a member of the remuneration and transformation committee, the sustainability committee, and the directors’ affairs committee. He served as a Board member of the University of Venda Foundation from 2005 to 2009.
Desai has also served on industry bodies including as a Board member of the World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers, from 2008 to 2012. He served two terms from August 2008 to July 2011 as President of Print Media South Africa, which represents over 700 newspaper and magazine titles in South Africa. He was also Chairman of the Board of the Newspaper Association of South Africa from August 2008 to July 2011.
In terms of charities, Desai was a trustee of the Argus Voting Trust from 2002 to 2012 and treasurer of the Kwaito Relief Fund from 2003 to 2005.
In these various roles Desai has focused on contributing to strategy, change and adding value. He brings these same objectives to Wits.
Dean of Students
Mr Jerome September
Jerome September was appointed as Dean of Student Affairs at Wits in May 2018 after joining the University as Deputy Dean of Student Affairs in February.
September was previously Head of Student Affairs at Sol Plaatje University, Northern Cape, where he was responsible for strategic and operational leadership of the Student Affairs Division. He brings a wealth of experience in this area to Wits, after having served for more than a decade at his alma mater, the University of Cape Town (UCT).
At UCT, September was manager for Student Governance and Leadership in the Student Affairs Department from 2005 to 2012. He was responsible, inter alia, for facilitating dialogue between student leaders and University authorities, managing and co-ordinating various leadership development initiatives, and co-ordinating the student leader awards programmes.
In 2012, September became Youth Development Connector at Citizens Movement in Cape Town. He returned to UCT in 2014 and worked as Special Projects Advisor to the Director of the International Academic Programmes Office until 2015.
During his student days, September was President of the Student Representative Council and served on UCT’s Council and Senate. He was co-chair of the first Institutional forum at UCT and was actively involved in the transformation process at the institution.
September holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Studies and a Master of Philosophy degree in human rights from UCT. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration at the University of Bath in the UK, focusing on creating an inclusive University.