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University of Johannesburg: Vice Chancellor

Ihron Lester Rensburg

Ihron Lester Rensburg has spent many of his working years fighting the cause for equal education in South Africa. This, after practicing as a pharmacist in the townships of Port Elizabeth and Soweto, and at the Livingston Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth from 1982 to 1986.

From 1986 to 1992, Prof Rensburg was the executive general secretary of the National Education (Crisis) Co-ordinating Committee (NECC) – an anti-apartheid social movement alliance and affiliate of the United Democratic Front – where he had responsibility for directing, formulating and developing policies, strategies and mass campaigns to advance the final push to end apartheid, and in particular, apartheid education.

Between 1992 and 1995 Prof Rensburg was a visiting researcher at the Education Policy Unit of the University of the Witwatersrand. During this time he consulted for the Swedish International Development Authority, evaluating its support to the education of South Africans during 1991 – 1994, and advised on guidelines for Swedish involvement in South African education after the end of apartheid.

Prior to 1994, especially during 1976, 1980, 1985 and 1986-1999, as a result of South Africa’s national security legislation, Prof Rensburg was detained without trial and as a result his professional development and career was severely interrupted. During this extremely dangerous period in the Eastern Cape, he co-created and led student and teacher movements at high school and university, and was elected leader in various civic organizations, leading to his election as General Secretary of the National Education Crisis Committee in 1986.

From 1995 until 2001 Prof Rensburg held the post of Deputy Director-General in South Africa’s Department of Education where he was responsible for charting South Africa’s post-apartheid education policies for higher, further and general education, as well as for early childhood education, special needs education, distance education and technology enhanced learning.

Prof Rensburg joined the University of Johannesburg in April 2006 after spending five years (2001 – 2006) at South Africa’s public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). He held the post of Chief Executive: Strategic Corporate Services with responsibility for Group Technology, Group Human Capital Services, Group Legal Services, Group Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, and Corporate Communication.

He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, California, U. S. A., where he completed his dissertation with distinction under the title: “Collective Identity and Public Policy: From Resistance to Reconstruction in South Africa, 1986-1995.” He also holds an M.A. (Political Sociology) from Stanford University and a B. Pharm. from Rhodes University, South Africa. He also holds an honorary professorship in Education from the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Rensburg has received several awards and fellowships from, among others, the Ford Foundation, the Human Sciences Research Council (of South Africa), the W K Kellogg Foundation, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Pharmaceuticals, and Rhodes University.