News: Featured Stories

August 3, 2018

UMass signs memorandum of understanding with University of Cape Town

  • The UMass System
Five-year agreement will enhance collaboration between universities

BOSTON — On Monday, July 23, the University of Massachusetts signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of Cape Town, reaffirming a long and substantive relationship with South Africa’s oldest university and one of Africa’s premier institutions of higher education.

The five-year agreement will include interdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching, opportunities for the exchange of academic materials, staff and students, and joint conferences, short courses and meetings on research issues of mutual interest. A key initiative will include the development of a professional degree program in the field of Natural Resource Governance.

“The University of Massachusetts is proud to enter into this important partnership with the University of Cape Town, which is one of the top research universities in the world,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “This agreement reinforces a rich and enduring relationship between UMass and the University of Cape Town and promotes the cross-cultural interaction that is so critical to preparing students for a global economy.”

“The University of Massachusetts is one of the University of Cape Town’s oldest strategic partners and great friends, through the Worldwide University Network, research collaborations and the students we have exchanged in both directions, but even more through the strong personal relationships on which the best collaborations are built,” said University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng. “We look forward to taking this relationship to new heights with the signing of a formal agreement and through the exciting projects that are in development that will benefit both university communities and contribute to great global challenges.”

The agreement with the University of Cape Town highlights a substantive relationship between the University of Massachusetts and South Africa that began in the 1970s, when UMass became one of the first universities to divest of holdings there, an action that swelled a movement around the globe and contributed to the demise of apartheid.

The University has awarded honorary degrees to many of those engaged intimately in the struggle for freedom, including then-Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now president of South Africa; Barbara Hogan, an Afrikaner woman who served nearly 10 years in prison for her efforts to overthrow the apartheid government; and former President Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2006.

In addition to the University of Cape Town, UMass has had academic agreements with several other South African universities, including the University of the Western Cape, the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the University of Witwatersand, the University of Praetoria, MEDUNSA (the Medical University of South Africa) and Stellenbosch University.