Matie Voices

Prof CH Brink

SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor 2001–2007

Born on 31 January 1951 in Upington, Prof Christoffel Hendrik (CH) Brink is a logician who completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) before going on to obtain master’s degrees from Rhodes University in both philosophy and mathematics.

Completing his studies with both a PhD and an interdisciplinary DPhil from the University of Cambridge, he has since published research in a variety of fields, including philosophy, computer science, mathematics and logic. He previously held an A-rating from South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and was also a senior research fellow at the National University of Australia during the 1980s.

Brink’s first position on a tertiary management team was as professor and head of the Department of mathematics and applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). During this period he also served as the coordinator of strategic planning for the university. This was followed by a position as pro-vice-chancellor of research at Australia’s University of Wollongong.

2002 saw Brink return to South Africa after accepting the post of rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University. One of the initiatives during his five-year tenure that he will be remembered for entails transformation activities that combined cultural and social diversity, quality education, and a research-minded environment. It subsequently gained national and international attention. Along with Stellenbosch’s mayoral office, he also initiated ‘Reinventing Stellenbosch’, which was aimed at finding ways for both students and residents to bridge the divides created by apartheid.

When he left to take up the vice-chancellorship of Newcastle University in 2007, he took many of the abovementioned values with him in an attempt to campaign for it to become a world-class civic university. Over a 10-year period in this position, until his retirement in 2016, he became known for pushing for the institution to focus its teaching and research on the challenges that face our global society today.

Elsewhere during his career Brink also served as board member of Universities UK, the Advisory Committee on Leadership, Governance and Management of the HE Funding Council for England, the Russell Group, as well as the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. In addition, he holds the Freedom of the City of Newcastle, is a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018.