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Barney Pityana

Barney PityanaProf N Barney Pityana is Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa in the City of Tshwane, South Africa since 2001 and was recently re-appointed as Principal and Vice Chancellor for another term, until 2010.

Unisa is among the world’s mega distance education institutions with over 220 000  registered students and 5000 staff and academics. He was previously Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, one of the independent constitutional institutions established to protect democracy in South Africa (1995-2001). He has also served as a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for a term of six years.

Dr Pityana read law in South Africa and is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. He also studied theology at King’s College London and trained for the Anglican ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon Oxford. He served as a curate in the Ecumenical Parish of Woughton in Milton Keynes, Diocese of Oxford and was Vicar of Immanuel Highters Heath Birmingham. He has also served as Director of the World Council of Churches’ Programme to Combat Racism based in Geneva (1988-1992). He received the PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town in 1995.

Prof Pityana has published extensively in theology, human rights law and politics. He holds the ad hominem Chair in Law at the University of South Africa.  He has also held various positions in Africa and internationally relating to his interests and commitment to human rights. Among these are serving on the Chairman of the AU Commission’s Steering Committee on African Intellectuals and the Diaspora; the African Governance Institute, and as Chairman of the African Council for Distance Education.

In South Africa he is prominent in higher education leadership and advocacy as Chairperson of Higher Education South Africa (HESA) which is the voice of the higher education vice chancellors and institutions.  Prof Pityana is an Alternate Member for Africa on the Follow-up Committee: UNESCO International World Conference on Higher Education. In April 2006, Professor Pityana received the Award of the Order of the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab: Silver from President Thabo Mbeki.  Professor Pityana was presented with an Honorary Fellowship from Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford in May 2008 and an Honorary Fellowship from the Commonwealth of Learning in July 2008.

See M-2009 Programme, Monday morning, 8 June 2009