Managing Diversity in Transforming Institutions of Higher Education: The Case of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

By Tokozile Valerie Mayekiso and Lyn Snodgrass.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents the results of a study conducted at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Port Elizabeth, South Africa on the management of diversity with the context of a newly created higher education institution. The restructuring of higher education in post apartheid South Africa included the merger of many of the country’s historically black institutions with historically white institutions. NMMU is one of those institutions which resulted from the merger of two universities and a technikon in 2005. The complexity of the diverse work and learning environments in the newly established university means that there are many challenges for academic leaders and management when planning and initiating transformation. The aims of the study were twofold: Firstly, the study sought to assess the perceptions of the members of the Faculty of Arts Management Committee on their role in the management of diversity in the Faculty. Secondly, the study explored the perceptions of the members of the Faculty Management Committee and Faculty Research, Technology and Innovation on how issues of diversity are managed at Faculty and University levels. Data was obtained through questionnaires. The results of the study show that when diversity is seen as an opportunity for transformation and not merely a problem, it can be a vehicle for bringing the institution into congruity with the changing South African landscape. Promoting a democratic institutional environment means leadership that encourages diversity as a challenge to traditional, static structures and intergroup relations that reduce perceptions promoting negative images of diversity.

Keywords: Diversity, Academic Leadership, Higher Education, Transformation

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.123-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 592.529KB).

Prof. Tokozile Valerie Mayekiso

Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Prof Tokozile Mayekiso is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth. She obtained her BA degree from the University of Fort Hare, majoring in Psychology and Geography and went on to complete her Honours and Masters degrees in Psychology. A doctorate from the Free University in Berlin, Germany, followed. Prof Mayekiso joined the University of Transkei (UNITRA) as senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology in 1987 and was head of that department from 2000 to June 2001. She was Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts at UNITRA in 2000 and acting dean of the Faculty from January 2001 to June 2001. In July 2001 she was appointed as Head: School of Human and Community Development at Wits University, from January 2006 Deputy Dean: Faculty of Humanities and since June 2006 she was the acting dean of the faculty. In 1992 she registered as a clinical psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is a member of the Psychological Society of South Africa, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and executive member of the South African National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science. She is a board member of the National Development Agency whose mission is the eradication of poverty and its cause. Prof Mayekiso has published extensively in academic journals. She has been awarded numerous academic achievement awards and fellowships and supervises a number of masters and doctoral students.

Dr. Lyn Snodgrass

Political Leader for Masters Programme, Political and Governmental Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Lyn is the Programme Leader for the Masters Programme in Conflict Transformation and Management at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). This programme is the first of its kind in South Africa and draws students from Africa as well as the rest of the world. Lyn is also working on conflict management systems in various communities in the Nelson Mandela Metropole. She has degrees in Organizational and Industrial Psychology and an MA in Conflict Resolution. Her doctoral research investigated an approach to conflict management and peace education in multicultural settings using strategies which embed the relevant cultural understanding and sensitivity into the training programme.


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