South Africa


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As  one of the first American public universities to divest from companies doing business with the South African apartheid regime, the University of Massachusetts is proud of its long standing engagement with South Africa and its many universities.

Over the years, the University has recognized several South African leaders whose vision and struggles altered the course of South African history forever, including the awarding of honorary degrees to former President Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graša Machel. His daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, earned an MA in sociology in 1989 and a doctorate in anthropology in 1993 from UMass Amherst.

Ahmed Kathrada, a key figure in the struggle against apartheid who spent 25 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela and others convicted in the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial, received an honorary doctorate from UMass Amherst in 2000 and received the President's medal in February, 2006, before an audience of former political prisoners and colleagues and friends of Robben Island Museum and World Historic Site.

  • Read more about President Mandela and Graša Machel honorary degrees
  • Read more about Mr. Kathrada's President's Medal


UMass faculty members work with several universities including the University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, and are engaged in an array of projects all rooted in the mission of teaching, research and service. Collaborative projects range from groundbreaking research on HIV transmission and prevention, to chronicling the fall of apartheid and the rise of the democratic, nonracial state.

University of Cape Town

The University of Massachusetts has a formal partnership with the University of Cape Town, South Africa's oldest university and one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions, under which the two institutions are committed to cooperation between faculty, research and administrative staff to facilitate study abroad and student exchange programs; visits by and interchange of faculty and staff; and collaborative research activities.

University of Western Cape

UMass faculty have a long history of engagement with the University of Western Cape. UMass Amherst professor Robert Paul Wolff, faculty member in Afro-American studies, has been working for over 15 years to raise money for scholarships for more than 1,200 low-income students in South Africa to attend South African universities. Over the course of two decades, UMass Boston's Padraig O'Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at the MCCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies conducted interviews to chronicle South Africa's political history.

As a result of Professor Wolff and Professor O'Malley's remarkable work, the University of Western Cape and the University of Massachusetts signed a formal agreement in 2006.

University of KwaZulu-Natal

In 2006 the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Massachusetts signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage direct contact and cooperation between their faculty, research and administrative staff.

A subsidiary contract was signed in 2009 by the two institutions to further the development and implementation of post-graduate programs in Autistic Spectrum Disorders at the University of University of KwaZulu-Natal.