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Tobias Edu Trust to benefit Witsies

- By Vivienne Rowland

Wits students will benefit from an educational trust bequeathed by the late Professor Phillip Tobias as set out in his last living will and testament.

This was announced last night at the official opening of the Phillip V. Tobias Building in Parktown, the new home of several Wits Faculty of Health Science entities.

The announcement was made by Richard Codron, Tobias’ legal advisor, attorney and executor of the estate.

“In terms of Phillip Tobias’ will, after having making numerous bequests and special bequests, he left the residue of his estate, which is meaningful, to a trust, which is to be called the Phillip Tobias Education Trust. The purpose of the trust is to provide bursaries and scholarships to students in need,” said Codron.

Codron, together with Michael Katz, also an attorney and co-executor of the estate, will be the trustees of the Trust, and will be joined by the Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Affairs, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi.

He said that he, Katz and Vilakazi will meet with Wits’ management structures to establish the needs of the students and the terms of the Trust.

“The Trust is available to students no matter what field of study they are pursuing, and Tobias has expressed that there is to be no discrimination in terms of race, colour, creed or gender. It will make a meaningful contribution to the students who will benefit from it,” said Codron.

Listen to Codron.

The PV Tobias Building, the latest addition to Wits’ academic, teaching and administrative properties is situated in the Faculty of Health Sciences precinct at 29 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown, which is the former South African Human Rights Commission building.  

The gradual increase in student numbers necessitated the expansion of the Faculty’s infrastructure and staffing, and in order to optimise the space in the existing Health Sciences building, leading to the renovation of the PVT Building.

This move has also created an opportunity for the Faculty to remodel the 10th Floor of the traditional building, previously occupied by the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics and the Centre for Family Medicine, amongst others, for research purposes.

Emeritus Professor Phillip Tobias, who passed away in 2012, spent over 60 years of his life at Wits as an undergraduate student, a graduate, an academic, a Professor, Departmental Head, Dean, Emeritus Professor, Honorary Professorial research Fellow and of course long-time Director of the Sterkfontein Research Unit.

While he was internationally celebrated and respected for his research in the field of palaeoanthropology, his greatest loves were the study of anatomy and the training of students.

The building will ensure that Professor Phillip V. Tobias’ legacy as a teacher, a researcher, and humanitarian will continue.

The R65-million building consists of six floors and houses an exhibition area, a coffee shop, an executive committee room; an executive dining room; the Student Support Offices; the Faculty Registrar’s Office, the Faculty Research Office, the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, the Centre for Rural Health; Family Medicine; Finance Offices; Human Resources Offices and the Dean’s Offices.

Professor Tobias’ memory lives on through the building, with each floor containing art, photographs, quotes and mementoes telling his remarkable life story. 

Guests at the opening of the building were also addressed by the Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib; Professor Martin Veller, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences; and the special advisor to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr John Pampallis.

Listen to Habib

Listen to Veller

Listen to Pampallis